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'. . . Let us be content, in work, 
To do the thing we can, and not presume 
To fret because it's little. 'Twill employ 
Seven men, they say, to make a perfect pin : 
Who makes the head, content to miss the point ; 
Who makes the point, agreed to leave the join ; 
And if a man should cry, ' I want a pin, 
'And I must make it straightway, head and point,' 
His wisdom is not worth the pin he wants. 
Seven men to a pin — and not a man too much ! " 

— Elizabeth Barrett Browning. 
Aurora Leigh, Book VIII. 


I'l.AI K I. 


Hii.tilish. ditle iiboiif 171(1. 












All rights reserved 

■^y (~ ■ '■I. 


T. N. L. 

" To cultivate kindness is a great part 
of the business of life." — Johnson. 



A FEW words will suffice to explain that this book has 
been written with the view of pointing out the great 
importance of the " Pin," both in ancient and in 
modern times. It may be said that some parts of the 
work do not actually concern " Pins " in the usual 
interpretation of the word, but the authors hope their 
readers will find there is always good and sufficient 
reason for introducing each subject. They trust, 
therefore, there is no occasion to apologise for giving 
to the public their humble record of the precious 
" Pin," in the sincere hope that what they have 
written may teach the world to realise its intrinsic 

The authors are much indebted for the kind con- 
sideration of those who have enabled them to repro- 
duce many interesting and curious things among their 
illustrations, and they wish particularly to thank Mr. 
Thomas Radcliffe, Worksop ; Mr. S. Cowles, the 
University Museum of Archasology and Ethnology 
at Cambridge ; Mr. J. Jennings, Bassett House, New- 
market ; Mrs. Head (whose works they quote), Mr. 
A. Pelham Trotter, Colonel Croft Lyons, Mr. A. 
Wynne Corrie, and Mrs. Thrale. Thanks are also 
due to the Dowager Lady Arundell of Wardour, to 
whom they owe illustrations of the famous Glastonbury 
Cup ; Lady Sackville, who has most kindly contributed 
many interesting relics from Knole ; the Marquis of 
Normanby, the Earl of Denbigh, the authorities of 



the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, 
and the Natural History Museum ; Dr. Joseph Ander- 
son, LL.D., keeper of the Museum of Antiquities, 
Edinburgh ; Mr. Leverton Harris, M.P.; Mr. Griffiths, 
Bangor ; Mr. Emery Walker ; Mr. Walter Acton, 1 1 a 
East Street, Brighton ; M. Dumoulin, the publisher 
of La Revolution^ by Charles D'Hericault, in which 
appeared the facsimile of Marie Antoinette's pin-prickt 
letter (see page 121); the Proprietors of Notes and 
Queries y the Queen^ and the Burlington Magazine^ 
by whose permission Plate XXIX. is reproduced, 
Messrs. Kirby and Beard (for information kindly 
given), and to many other friends, whose assistance 
has been of much value. 

The photographs for reproduction were principally 
taken, for the authors, by Messrs. Searle Brothers, 191 
Brompton Road. They also wish to acknowledge 
their indebtedness to the works of Sir John Evans, 
Miss Abraham {Greek Costume)^ and to Professor W. 
Ridgeway's The Early Age of Greece. 





The History of the Pin, from Ancient Times to 

THE Present Day ...... i 


Concerning the importance of Pins, their connec- 
tion WITH Witchcraft, the Wax Manikin, 
AND various Superstitions and Charms . . 25 


Romantic Superstitions about Pins — Old Customs 
— Particular Days favourable to the Work- 
ing OF Charms ....... 40 

Pin Hill and Pin Wells 53 

Games with Pins ....... 77 


Pin-cups — A Merry Pin — A Peevish Pin — A Pin 

Basket 92 

TiRLiNG-PiNs — Door-pins — Rolling-pins . . .150 



PiN-PRicKT Pictures — Marie Antoinette's Pin- 

PRiCKT Letter , . . . .112 


Policy of Pin-pricks — Deadly Hatpins — Con- 
spiracy OF THE Black Pin — "Etre tire a 

QUATRE fepINGLES " . . . . . .123 

Pins in Poetry and Prose 131 


The Pin in Place-names — Hairpin Corners — Pin- 
curls — Wedding Customs — Funeral Customs , 144 

Pincushions I53 


Plate I. {Collotype) Frontispiece 

Pin-prickt Picture : Lady Playing on a Harp. 

Jn tke possession of Miss E. D. Longman, 


Plate II. . 2 

1. Pin-thorn. 

2. Bone Pin, Paljeolithic Age, from Bruniquel on tlie 

River Aveyrol, France. 

3. Implement of Bone, Neolithic Age. 

4. From the Caves of the Rock of Gibraltar, belonging 

to the late Stone (Neolithic) Age. 

5. Bone Pin, Palaeolithic Period. 

6. Bone Pin. 

7. Celtic Bone Pin found in Cambridgeshire. 

8. Bone Pin of Roman Origin found in Yorkshire. 

Plate III 6 

1. Bronze Pin found near Durham. 

2. Bronze Pin. 

3. Bronze Pin. 

4. Double Bronze Pin. 

5. Bronze Pin (Lake Dwellings of Italy).] ^^om Professor W. 

^_ _,. /Ti T^ 11- rxi\ \ Kidgetvay' s "The 

6. Bronze Pin (Lake Dwelhngs of Italy). \ Early Age of Greece" 

I [Cambridge University 
J Press). 

Plate IV 9 

1. Two Gold Hairpins (about the eighth century B.C.), 

found at Salamis in Cyprus. 

2. Gold Pin (about the seventh century B.C.), found 

at Chiusi in Tuscany. 

3. Votive Hairpin of Gold, surmounted with a Pearl, 

dedicated to Aphrodite (about the sixth century 
B.C.). From the Temple of Aphrodite at Paphos 
in Cyprus. 



Plate V. lo 

1. Silver Hairpin, with Hand holding an Apple. 

The Louvre Museum, Paris. 

2. Silver Hairpin, with Boar's Head. 

7"^!? Louvre Museum, PaHs. 

3. Silver Hairpin, with Ram's Head. 

The Louvre Museum, Paris. 

Plate VI 10 

1. Saxon Pin of Brass and Gold, with Red and Blue 


2. Saxon Pin of Bronze and Gold, ornamented with 

Garnets and Pearls. 

3. Bronze Hairpin from Saxon Barrow. 

4. Bronze Hairpin from Saxon Barrow. 

5. Bronze Hairpin from Saxon Barrow. 

Plate VII. 11 

Hairpins of the Jacobite Period. Georgian Hairpins. 

Plate VIII. 12 

1. Wooden Pin from the Roof of Westminster Hall. 

2. Pin of Twisted Bronze found in English Barrow. 

3. Bronze Pin found in an interment in Wales. 

4. Two Saxon Bronze Pins from Aldeburgh in Suffolk. 

5. Pin represented fastening the shroud of John 

Stratford, Archbishop of Canterbury, in the 
Cloisters of Canterbury Cathedral. Fourteenth 

6. Irish Flat-headed Pin, made of Bronze. 

7. Bronze Pin found at Edinburgh. 

Plate IX 13 

1. Bronze Pin from the Lake Dwellings of Switzer- 


2. Celtic Bronze Pin from Cambridgeshire. 



3. Roman Bronze Pin found in Kent. 

4. Bronze Pin from Saxony. 

5. Bronze Pin from Kiev in South Russia. 


Plate X 

1. Breast-pin found at Pompeii. 

2. Double Breast-pin of Gold and Coral which be- 

longed to John Frederick Sackville, third Duke 
of Dorset. 

3. Pin-maker's Peg, made of Bone. 

4. The kind of Pin which was filed on the Peg. 

5. Four old Double-headed Pins. Date unknown. 

6. Round-headed Pin. Date 1570. 

7. Brass Round-headed Pin from Scotland. Date un- 


Plate XI 23 

1. Pins dating back to the Jacobite Rising in 1745. 

2. Pin of later Georgian date. 

3. Pins on Old Ribbon, dating back to the beginning 

of the nineteenth century. 

4. Three Lace Pins — (a) used in Torchon Lace-making, 

(d) in Buckinghamshire Lace, (r) in Honiton 

5. Lilliputian Pins, more than fifty years old. 

Plate XII s$ 

1. Clay Model of a Human Figure called a "Corp- 


The University Museum of ArchcEology and Ethnology, 

2. Calf's Heart stuck full of Pins. 

The National Museuin of Antiquities, Edinhirgh. 

Plate XIII 58 

1. Fontaine Ste. Barbe (Wishing Well), Barenton, 


2. St. Mary's Wishing Well, Orton, Morayshire. 

3. St. George's Wishing Well, in the Parish of Ste. 

Marie du Castel, Guernsey. 



Plate XIV 79 

1. The Dancing Gooseberry. 

2. The Pin Organ. 

3. The Fly Cage. 

4. Chain made with a Cotton Reel and Pins. 

Plate XV .98 

1. Glastonbury Pin-cup. 

In the possession of the Dowager Lady Arundell of 

2. Glastonbury Pin-cup, shewing the Pins. 

In the possession of the Dowager Lady Arundell of 

3. Carved Wooden Pin-cup. 

In the possession of Mr. A. Wynne Corrie. 

4. Carved Wooden Pin-cup, shewing the Pins. 

In the possession of Mr. A. Wynne Corrie. 

Plate XVI 107 

1. Tirling-pin with Latch attached at top, and an 

iron ring or hasp. 

The National Museum of Antiquities, Edinburgh. 

2. Tirling-pin with only an iron ring or hasp. 

The National Museum of Antiquities, Edinburgh. 

3. Tirling-pin with only an iron ring or hasp. 

The National Museum of Antiquities, Edinbutgh. 

4. Glass Rolling-pins. 

In the possession of Mr. Thomas Ratcliffe and other 
residents in Worksop. 

Plate XVII 115 

Pin-prickt Picture : S. Stephen. English, about two 
hundred years old. 

In the possession of Mr. Thomas Ratcliffe. 



Plate XVIII 115 

Pin-prickt Picture : S. Francis. English, about two 
hundred years old. 

In the possession of Mr. Thomas Ratcliffe. 

Plate XIX 116 

Pin-prickt Picture : Woman with the Merry-thought 
Bone of a Chicken. Nationality and date un- 

Jti the possession of Miss Moore. 

Plate XX 116 

Pin-prickt Picture : Man Mending a Pen. Nationality 
and date unknown. 

In the possession of Mr. Thomas Ratcliffe. 

Plate XXI 117 

Pin-prickt Picture : Two Boys at Play. English, 1780. 

In the possession of Mrs. Thrale. 

Plate XXIL 117 

Pin-prickt Picture : Boy Playing a Violin. English, 

In the possession of Mrs. Thrale. 

Plate XXIII. . . 118 

1. Pin-prickt Silhouette Portrait of Henry IV. of 

France. Seventeenth century. 

In the possession of Lord Sackville, 

2. Pin-prickt Silhouette Portrait of Sulli. Seventeenth 


In the possession of Lord Sackville. 

3. Pin-prickt Picture : A Flower. By a Lady aged 

one hundred years. 

In the possession of Miss Eleanor D. Longman. 



Plate XXIV 119 

Pin-prickt Picture : The Salles des Festins, Versailles. 
French, 1763. 

In the possession of Lord Sackville. 

Plate XXV 155 

1. Metal Pin-poppet. 

In the possession of Mr. Thomas Ratcliffe. 

2. Wooden Pin-poppet. 

In the possession of Mr. Thomas Ratcliffe. 

3. Wooden Pin-poppet. 

In the possession of Air. Thomas Ratcliff'e. 

4. Ivory Pin-box. 

In the possession of Mr. J. Jennings. 

Plate XXVI 162 

Pincushion of the time of Queen Elizabeth. 

In the possession of the Earl of Denbigh, 

Plate XXVII 164 

1. Pincushion of the time of Queen Elizabeth. 

The Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington. 

2. Jacobean Pincushion. 

The Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington, 

3. Oblong Pincushion of Canvas. English, seven- 

teenth century. 

The Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington. 

4. Bag and Pincushion of Canvas. English, seven- 

teenth century. 

The Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington. 



Plate XXVIII 165 

1. Canvas Pincushion, embroidered in Coloured Silks. 

English, seventeenth century. 

The Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington. 

2. Pincushion decorated entirely with Pins, and dated 


The Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington. 

3. Spangled Pincushion from Knole. 1680. 

In the possession of Lord Sackville. 

Plate XXIX 166 

Pincushion of the time of Charles II. 

Reproduced by kind permission of the Proprietors of the 
"Burlington Alagazine." 

Plate XXX. 167 

1. Carved Bone Cotton-winder and Pincushion com- 

bined. William and Mary. 

In the possession of Mrs. Nyburg, Church Street, Kejisitigton. 

2. Another view of the same. 

3. Round Pincushion for Suspension from the Girdle. 

Late seventeenth century. 

The Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington. 

Plate XXXI 169 

1. Prince Charlie Pincushion. 

The National Museum of Antiquities, Edinburgh. 

2. The reverse side of the same. 

Plate XXXII 170 

Jacobite Pincushion, shewing the Names of the Leaders, 
Generals, and Men who died for Prince Charlie 
and the Jacobite cause. 

In the possession of Mr. A. Pelhatn Trotter. 



Plate XXXIII 170 

Jacobite Pincushion, shewing the Names of the 
Esquires and Captains who died for Prince 
CharUe and the Jacobite cause. 

In the possession of Mr. A. Pelham Trotter. 

Plate XXXIV 172 

1. Pincushion hanging from the Waist on to the Skirt 

of a Doll. 1746. 

In the possession of the Rev. R. H. Hart Davis. 

2. Venetian Pincushion. Eighteenth century. 

In the possession of Mrs. Morrell. 

3. Birthday Pincushion. 1751. 

In the possession of Mr. Thomas Ratcliffe. 

Plate XXXV 175 

1. Maternity Pincushion. 1768. 

In the possession of Mrs. Morrell. 

2. Maternity Pincushion from Camella Lacey. 1794. 

In the possession of Mr. Lever ton Harris, M.P. 

3. Maternity Pincushion. 1830. 

In the possession of Mrs. Booth. 

4. Wedding Pincushion. 1840. 

In the possession of Mr. Walter Acton, iiA East Street, 

Plate XXXVI 177 

1. Wedding Souvenir. 1841. 

In the possession of Mrs. Hart Davis. 

2. The reverse side of the same. 

hi the possession of Mrs. Hart Davis. 

3. Memorial Pincushion to the Duke of York. 1827. 

In the possession of Mrs. Head. 

4. The reverse side of the same. 



Plate XXXVII 179 

1. Group of Knitted Pincushions. Eighteenth and 

nineteenth centuries. 

In the possession of Mrs. Head. 

2. Knitted Pincushion. 1815. 

hi the possession of Mrs. W. J. Birkbeck. 

3. Small Knitted Pincushion. Eighteenth century. 

The Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington. 

4. Knitted Pincushion. 1797. 

In the possession of Mr. A. Pelham Trotter. 

Plate XXXVIII 181 

1. Group of Pocket Pincushions. Nineteenth century. 

In the possession of Mrs. Head. 

2. Cornucopia Pincushion. Nineteenth century. 

hi the possession of Miss Evelyn Chichester. 

Plate XXXIX 183 

1. Heart-shaped Kitchen Pincushion. Nineteenth 


In the possession of Mr. Thomas Ratcliffe. 

2. Heart-shaped Pincushion decorated with Beads 

and Pins. Nineteenth century. 

In the possession of Mr. Thomas Ratcliffe. 

3. Soldier's Pincushion. 1856. 

In the possession of Mr. Thomas Ratcliffe. 

Plate XL 186 

1. Square Pincushion with Velvet Top. Early nine- 

teenth century. 

In the possession of Mr. Thomas Ratcliffe. 

2. A Pin Tray. Early nineteenth century. 

In the possession of Mr. Thomas Ratcliffe. 

3. Pincushion to be fastened to a Table with Screw. 

Early nineteenth century. 

In the possession of Air. Thomas Ratcliffe. 

4. Small Square Bead Pincushion. Early nineteenth 


In the possession of Mr. Thomas Ratcliffe. 



Plate XLI i86 

1. Carved and Pierced Bone Wheel-barrow Pincushion. 


In the Possession of Mrs. Douglas Walker. 

2. Carved and Pierced Bone-work ; at the top a 

cylinder with a silk measure enclosed. 18 16-18. 

In the possession of Mr. J. Jennings. 

3. Carved and Pierced Bone Pincushion in the shape 

of a pair of Bellows. 18 16-18. 

In the possession of Mr. Thomas Ratcliffe. 

4. Carved Bone Pincushion in the shape of a Basket. 


In the possession of Mr. F. Brockett. 

5. Round Carved Bone Pincushion. 1816-18. 

In the possession of Mr. Thomas Ratcliffe. 

Plate XLII 187 

1. Sign of the Pincushion Inn at Wyberton, near 

Boston, Lines. 

2. Pincase of the Musquakie Indians of North 

America, shewing the original Thorn-pin. 

The University Museum of Archeology and Ethnology, 

Plate XLIII 187 

Pincushion used by Queen Victoria in the Robing- 
room at Westminster Abbey on the day of her 
Coronation, June 28, 1838. 

In the possession of the Marquis of Normanby. 

Marie Antoinette's Pin-prickt Letter . . . . page 121 




" See that there be not a loose pin in the work of your salvation." — 
Rutherford, Letter to J. Gordon, 16^7. 

" His garment nought but many ragged clouts, 
With thornes together pined and patched was." 

— Spenser's Faerie Queene, 1590. 

The history of such a universal and commonplace 
object as a pin (as at present known) would not 
seem perhaps at first sight to offer material of much 
interest to the general reading public, and yet we 
venture to think that some of the information we 
have been able to collect on the subject may prove 
of interest. " To begin from the beginning " is 
sometimes as much desired by grown-up readers as 
by children, and we therefore propose to trace the 
origin and evolution of the pin from ancient to 
modern times. 

A pin is a small spike, usually made of metal, 
with a bulbed head or some other arrangement to 
prevent the spike passing entirely through the cloth 
or other material which it is fastening together. 
This is, broadly speaking, che modern definition of 
a pin. In one form or another pins are of the highest 
antiquity, and it may be assumed that their use is 
coeval with human dress or covering of any kind, 



the earliest form doubtless being a natural thorn, such 
y as is still to be seen fastening the dresses of peasant 
women in Upper Egypt. This theory would seem 
to be confirmed by the word itself, which is derived 
from the Latin spina — a thorn. Spina Christi is the 
name of the tree on which grow the large thorns 
. used as pins in Egypt. In ancient times, thorns 
curiously scraped and dried were called by the poor 
women of Wales " Pindraen," and were probably 
also used to secure their clothing. From ages past 
to the present day, gipsies have used pin-thorns to pin 
their tents and garments. Quite recently, Gipsy Lee 
of Aldeburgh in Suffolk (aged nearly a hundred 
years) wrote to her great-niece, living near Southwold 
in the same county, asking her to send her some 
pin-thorns, as they were not procurable in her own 
neighbourhood. These pin-thorns are the long thorns 
of the new shoots of the blackthorn. They are 
boiled or fried in oil or fat in order to maintain their 
rigidity and also to prevent their easily snapping. 
They are straightened out when cooked. Plate II., 
Illustration i, shews one of these pin-thorns. In 
one of the Asiatic countries the articles of food 
/ bought by the poorer population are wrapped in a 
big leaf, which is then secured with a thorn. Pin- 
thorns are also used in the New Hebrides for many 
purposes, and the Musquakie Indians (North America) 
also make use of them. In Plate XLII., Illustra- 
tion 2, will be seen one of a Musquakie Indian 
pincushion with the thorns used by these people. 
Following after the natural pin came the pins 
^ made of bone, dating from the Prehistoric Age, 
and we are much indebted to the works of Sir 
John Evans, which have enabled us to classify pins 


I. I'in-thoin. 

Bone I 'ill (Palaeo- 
lithic Ai^e), from 
Brunquel on the 
river Aveyrol , 

3. Implement of Bone. 
(Neolithic Age.) 

P^rom the Caves on 
the Rock of Gib- 
raltar, belonging 
to the late Stone 
(Neolithic) Age. 

5. Bone Pin (Pahvo- 
lithic Period). 

6. Bone 

S. Bone Pin nf Ro- 
man origin, found 
in Yorkshire. 

Celtic Bone Pin 
found in Cam- 


according to the different periods to which they belong. 
A brief description of these periods, gathered from Sir 
John Evans's works, may be of advantage. Reference 
is made particularly to the antiquities of Western 

T^he Iron Age in Denmark and in all Western 
Europe is supposed to go back to about the Christian 

1'he Bronze Age^ to embrace a period of one or 
two thousand years previous to that date ; and 

'The Stone Age (and Bone) all previous time of 
man's occupation of that part of the world. 

The Stone Age has two different periods — Palaso- 
lithic and Neolithic. 

The Palaeolithic Period is by far the more ancient, 
and the objects are found in caverns, and beneath 
layers of stalagmite and in ancient alluvia — in both 
cases usually associated with the remains of animals 
either locally or entirely extinct. 

In the Neolithic Period objects were found upon 
or near the surface of the soil, in encampments, on 
the sites of ancient habitations, and in tumuli 
(mounds). This period is sometimes called the 
Surface Period. 

This classification into different ages in no way 
implies any exact chronology, far less one that would 
be applied to all the countries of Europe alike, for 
it is evident that at the times when, for instance, in 
a country such as Italy, the Iron Age may have com- 
menced, some of the more northern countries of 
Europe may possibly have been in their Bronze Age, 
and others again still in their Stone Age. It is im- 
possible to fix any hard and fast limits for the close 
of the Stone (and Bone) Period, or for the beginning 


or end of the Bronze Period, or for the commence- 
ment of that of Iron. 

It does not follow that in the Bronze Age of any 
country, stone and bone instruments had entirely ceased 
to be in use, or even that in the Iron Age both bronze 
and stone had been completely superseded for all 
cutting purposes. Though the succession of these 
three stages of civilisation may here be regarded as 
certain, the tr&nsition from one to the other must 
have required a long course of years to become 
general, and ev«n in any particular district the change 
cannot have been sudden. There must have been a 
time when in each district the new phase of civilisa- 
tion was being introduced and the old conditions had 
not entirely changed. 

The illustrations and descriptions of pins of 
different periods which are given start from the 
earliest times and take the reader up to the modern 
pin. Plate II., Illustrations 2, 3, 4, are examples, 
after the thorn, of the earliest known method of 
fastening on clothing. 

These represent, of course, the pin in its rudest 
form, but the next illustration (5), Plate II., shews 
one which is better shaped and therefore no doubt 
more acceptable to the feminine mind of the period. 

This specimen is in the Natural History Museum 
at South Kensington, and it will be noticed that the 
body of the pin is nearly circular and expands into a 
head, the point tapering off sharply. It is highly 
polished from constant use, the dress it fastened being 
probably made of skins. It belongs to the Palaeolithic 

The prehistoric woman must soon have persuaded 
her husband that the head of the pin ought to be 


more of an ornamental nature, and an example is 
given here of a bone pin, the head of which shews 
some attempt at decoration (Plate II., Illustration 6). 

Plate II., Illustration 7, shews a bone pin of Celtic 
origin found in Cambridgeshire, and Illustration 8, a 
pin of elegant shape, of Roman origin, found in 
Yorkshire. It has been most carefully fashioned, and 
the point is almost as finely tapered as the bronze pin 
seen in Plate VIII. Before passing on, it is interest- 
ing to note the curious custom in use in Egypt, of 
fastening down the eyelids of the dead with a very fine 

As has been already seen, there is considerable 
difficulty in classifying the pins of different ages in 
their exact order, as the Stone, Bronze, and Iron 
Ages overlapped each other in different countries 
owing to the varying degrees of civilisation to 
which these countries had attained ; it would there- 
fore seem that a certain amount of latitude must be 
allowed in giving examples of pins in different parts 
of the world, and our aim has been more to give a 
general survey of the gradual development of the 
pin both as regards material and make from the 
earliest periods onwards, than to attempt a fully 
detailed chronological account, which would be beyond 
the scope of our present work. It may, however, 
be safely accepted that following after the Palaeolithic 
and Neolithic Periods, during which the " pins " or 
"clothes fasteners" were made of bone from the 
fibula of some animal, split and then rubbed to a 
point — which were generally found in caves in the 
Palaeolithic Period and in the Neolithic Period in 
tumuli or encampments — came the Bronze Age ; that 
is to say, an age in which these and other imple- 


ments were made of bronze, a composition metal of 
copper and tin. It is again very difficult sometimes 
to say whether bronze pins, certainly of great antiquity, 
belong to the Bronze Age properly so called, or to 
the late Celtic or early Iron Period. 

The development of clothing for both sexes, 
rendered a more finely tapered and highly polished 
pin necessary, and we see this in one of the earliest 
examples of bronze pins (Plate III., Illustration i), 
which resembles in shape the bone pin seen in Plate II., 
Illustration 5. This bronze pin was found near 

Illustrations 2 and 3 in Plate III. are also of very 
simple design, but with an attempt at ornamenta- 
tion, as will be seen from the double cross roughly 
raised on the bronze on the one, and the slightly 
decorated head and shank of the other. 

It would seem that nothing fresh in the shape 
of pins of any kind has been invented since the epoch 
of the Bronze Age, and though fashion may be " ever 
changing" it is not "ever new," as will be seen from 
Illustration 4 in Plate li. of a very remarkable 
specimen of a double pin dating from that age, con- 
nected with a chain, similar to such as are in use at the 
present day. The evolution of the brooch from the 
pin is a subject full of interest, but it is not proposed 
to enter into it in these pages, except in so far as to 
speak of the primitive safety-pin, the earliest form of 
the brooch. These safety-pins were in full use in 
Northern Italy before the end of the Bronze Age, as 
well as several marked modifications, or, more strictly 
speaking, developments of the same. The birth of 
the safety-pin seems to have been somewhat in this 
wise. Long slender pins of bronze were a character- 


I. Bronze Pin found 
near Durham. 

2. Bronze Pin. 

3. Bronze Pin. 

4. Double Bronze Pin. 

5. T'ronze i'in. (I^ake 
Dwellings of Italy.) 

'ro»i. Prof. IV. Ruigeivays 
" The Early Age of 
Greece." {Catnbridge 
University Press. ) 

6. Hronze i'in. (Lake 
DwellinL,'.s (if Italy.) 

From Prof. I \ '. Kidgeivay's 
" The Early Age of 
G recce. " {Ca m bridge 
University Press.) 


istic feature of the lake dwellings of Italy and those of 
some contiguous countries. In Illustrations 5 and 6, 
Plate III., are shewn two examples of this kind of 
pin, one simply crooked to form a head, and the other 
elaborated into a spiral. Evidently one day a necessity 
arose in some one's existence to fasten his or her body- 
covering with greater security than that afforded by 
an ordinary pin, and the " some one "^ conceived the 
idea of bending the body of the pin after passing it 
through the garment and securing the point behind 
the head. The first step taken, a second naturally 
followed, that of giving a complete turn to the pin, 
and thus getting the spring. .' The body of the fibula 
began by being straight and parallel to the pin, but 
this not giving room enough for the cloth of the 
garment it was fastening, the bow shape was adopted, 
the bow being first very high and semicircular in 
shape, and then becoming lower. The disc was 
originally formed by several twists of a fine round 
wire ; the number of twists became smaller, the wire 
became broader and flattened, and the diameter of the 
disc increased. The latter then became a complete 
plate, the body and spring being made all of one piece 
like the modern safety-pin. These bow fibulas were 
found in every grave, even in those of children, and 
the earliest types date from the fifteenth century B.C. 
The safety-pin went through many evolutions as 
regards shape and style, and also the metal of which 
it was composed varied much, bronze, iron, and 
gold being all used in its manufacture, but it is most 
curious and interesting to note that it is the primi- 
tive and simplest form which has survived and is still 
in use at the present day. 

Long stiletto pins with ribbed handles have been 


found in Egyptian deposits of about 1450 to 1200 B.C., 
and also in Cyprus and at Sparta. Very long pins, 
also with ribbed handles, fasten the garments of one 
of the figures in the Fran9ois vase (now at Florence), 
dated by some authorities in the seventh century, but 
by others about 570-550 b.c. This figure is depicted 
wearing a garment fastened on the shoulder by pins 
inserted " down towards the breast." The material of 
which the top garment is composed is drawn from the 
back, and wraps over that which covers the front ; the 
pins are then inserted downwards and hold the two 
thicknesses of material together. These prodigious pins 
were of such size and strength that they could become 
dangerous and even murderous weapons in the hands 
of excited women, and, according to Herodotus, this 
was actually the case when a disastrous expedition 
was undertaken by the Athenians during the first half 
of the sixth century. One man only returned alive 
to Athens, and the story goes that the wives of those 
who had fallen in battle were so infuriated with the 
unfortunate man for having escaped when their hus- 
bands had perished, that they killed him with the 
brooches and pins with which their dresses were 
fastened, asking him as they stabbed him where he 
had left their husbands. This somewhat illogical 
conduct on the part of the Athenian women led to 
a different style of dress being imposed upon them 
which did not need these large pins, but was secured 
on the body by being sewn on the shoulders. The 
upper part of the sleeve was also sewn together or 
fastened by a number of small brooches. According 
to some authorities, these sewn garments were a re- 
version to a former fashion two or three centuries 


1. Two Gold Hairpins. 

\About the Wi century B.C. 
Found at' Salamis in 
Cyprus. ) 

2. Gold Pin. 


{About the j/h century B.r. 
Found at Chiusi in 
Tuscany. ) 

3. Votive Hairpin of 
Gold, .surmounted 
with a Pearl, dedi- 
cated to Aphrodite. 
(.Size, 8 in. long.) 

{Ahout the 6th century B.C. 
From the Temple of 
Aph}-odite at Paphos 
in Cyprus. ) 


Pins for the hair have been generally used by 
women in all ages, and even men wore them when 
the fashion of allowing their hair to grow long made 
it necessary to arrange it in the same way as the 
women. This fashion is supposed to have had its 
birth in Asia, from whence it made its way into other 
parts of the world. The hairpin consisted of a 
single pin with an ornamental head, and it is some- 
what difficult to differentiate between a pin worn in the 
hair and a pin to fasten clothing ; possibly the distinc- 
tion is not very great. Illustration i (Plate IV,) shews 
two beautiful pins of the Homeric age, about the eighth 
century B.C. They are made of gold, and were found 
at Salamis in Cyprus. They are now in the British 
Museum. The loop at the side is probably for some 
form of attachment (possibly a gold chain was affixed), > 
and it would seem from their general appearance 
these handsome pins may have been designed for hair 
ornaments. It would also seem reasonable to suppose 
that in this category would also be included a 
beautiful gold pin found at Chiusi in Tuscany, 
dating, it is supposed, from the seventh century b.c. 
It is decorated with circles placed one over the other 
(Plate IV., Illustration 2). 

The Athenians who called themselves Autochtones 
(the original inhabitants of a country who are the first 
possessors of it and never have mingled with other 
nations) wore grasshoppers in their hair as a symbol 
of their antiquity, for they thought that this insect was 
directly engendered from the earth. They abandoned 
this custom about the time of the wars of the Medes 
and Persians. 

Illustration 3 (Plate IV.) is a votive hairpin of 
gold surmounted by a pearl, and inscribed with a 


dedication to Aphrodite (from Temple of Aphrodite 
at Paphos in Cyprus, about sixth century B.C.). In 
the category of highly ornamental hairpins would 
also be included the three next illustrations (Plate V.), 
all of which are made of silver, and are in the Louvre 
Museum in Paris. 

Illustration i represents a hand of Venus or Paris 
holding an apple. 

Illustration 2 shews a magnificent pin, the head 
of which is composed of lentils placed one above the 
other, slightly engraved, through which passes the 
stem ; on the top is a kind of drum which holds a 
boar's head. 

Illustration 3 is in the same style, with a ram's 

When the hairpin (sometimes termed a bodkin, 
and by the Saxons a hair-needle) became a " biped " 
must have been, we venture to think, when the 
fashion came in of wearing the hair in curls close 
to the head, as it would be well-nigh impossible 
without terrible loss of time and temper to keep the 
curls in place with a single pin. 

For ornamental pins all kinds of metals, as we 
have seen, were brought into requisition, as well as 
ivory and bone, and a beautiful specimen of a Saxon 
pin is shewn in Illustration i (Plate VI,). The shank 
is made of brass with the head of gold, ornamented 
with red and blue stones and filigree work, and was 
probably used for the hair and for fastening the 

Another very decorative Saxon pin is seen in Illus- 
tration 2 (Plate VI.) ; it is made of bronze, with a 
gold head, ornamented with garnets and pearls. 

Hairpins of a somewhat humbler kind made of 



I. Silver Hairpin with Hand 
holding an Apple. (Size, 
64- in. long.) 

2. Silver Hairpin with Boar's 
Head. (Size, 6| in. 

( The Louvre Museum, Paris.) 

3. Silver Hairpin with Ram's 
Head. (Size, 6J in. 


1. Saxon I'in of Brass 
and Gold, with 
red and blue 

2. Saxon Pin of Bronze 
and Gold, orna- 
mented with gar- 
nets and pearls. 

4. Bronze I lairpin 
from Saxon 

3. Bronze HairjMn 
from Saxon 

5. Bronze I lairjiin 
from Saxon 



Hairpins of the Jacobite Period. 
(Sizes, 75 in. and 4I in. long.) 

Georgian Hairpins. 
(Size, loj in. long.) 


bronze have been found in England in Saxon barrows. 
They are shewn in Illustrations 3, 4, 5 (Plate VI.). 

The shape, or rather shapes of the modern hairpin 
(for there are many varieties) are doubtless familiar 
to all, but the illustration of the Jacobite and later 
Georgian hairpins are interesting (Plate VII.). They 
are curiously " straddle-legged," and it will be noticed 
one end is longer, as a rule, than the other. The 
Georgian hairpins are the largest, and their prodigious 
size was rendered necessary by the enormous erections 
of powdered hair in vogue at that time. 

Pins are mentioned in the Bible, but the Hebrew 
word specially refers to tent-pins, and is frequently 
used in connection with tents, and with the Jewish 
tabernacle in particular. Pins (nails or stakes) were 
used for holding together the different parts of this 
tent. There are many allusions to these in Exodus. 
" All the vessels of the tabernacle, in all the service 
thereof, and all the pins thereof, and all the pins of the 
court, shall be of brass" (Exodus xxvii. 19, A.V.). 
It is thought by some that the brass mentioned in 
the Scriptures should be understood as having refer- 
ence to copper, either in its pure state or as alloyed 
with tin, rather than to any compound exactly answer- 
ing to our brass. There are further references in 
Exodus and Numbers to pins, meaning pins which 
fastened or made fast different parts of the tabernacle 
and which were made of " brass," but the tent-pins to 
which the ropes of the tents were fastened were (it 
is thought) fashioned of wood, as amongst the Be- 
douins of the present day. The instrument recorded 
as having been driven by Jael through Sisera's temple, 
some think was a stake, or tent-pin. The pin which 
fastened the web (into which Delilah had woven 


Samson's hair) was the batten or pin with which 
the woof is beaten up into the web (Judges xvi. 14) : 
*' And she fastened it with the pin, and said unto him, 
The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awaked 
out of his sleep, and went away with the pin of the 
beam, and with the web," In Ezekiel xv. 3 the word 
pin is used for a peg for hanging up any vessel. 

In Isaiah xxii. 33 and Ezra ix. 8 it is used as typical 
of great security and strength : " I will fasten him as a 
nail in a sure place," and " to give us a nail in His holy 

The large pins or nails used in erecting an Eastern 
house being built into the wall, or fixed very securely, 
the expression in these verses pictures a secure 
position, a constant and sure abode. The pin is 
therefore here typical of great strength, and as it 
secures the different parts of an Eastern house, so 
Ezra, mourning for the wickedness of the Jewish 
people and praying for their reformation, asks God 
to give them as secure and safe an abode (from sin) 
as is given by the pin in an Eastern house. In 
Zechariah x. 4 the word is figuratively used to signify 
a ruler, or support of the State. Crisping-pins, which 
we may suppose to be curling-pins, are mentioned in 
Isaiah iii. 22: "The Lord will take away . . . the 
mantles, the whimples, and the crisping-pins." 

Before leaving the subject of pins or nails used 
in holding together different parts of a house, it will 
be interesting to our readers to note Illustration i 
(Plate VIII.), which represents the pin which fell from 
the roof of Westminster Hall, where it was used as a 
wooden nail or pin to keep some part of the wood- 
work together. Wooden pins are used at the present 
time for boat-building. 


I. Wooden I'in from the 
roof of Westminster 

7. Bronze Pin found at Edinburgh. m 

Two Saxon Bronze 
Pins from Aldeburgh 
in Suftblk. 


Pin of Twisted 

3. Bronze Pin 


I'in represented fastening 

6. Irishllat-headed 

Bronze found 

found in an 

the shroud of John Stret- 

Pin made of 

in English 

interment in 

ford, Archljishop of Can- 




terbury, in the cloisters 
of Canterbury Cathedral. 
i^fh century. 


2. Celtic Bronze Pin 
from Cambridge- 

I. Bronze Pin from 
the Lake Dwell- 
ings of Switzer- 

3. Roman Bronze Pin 
found in Kent. 

Bronze Pin from 

Bronze Pin from 
Kiev, in South 


Pins or skewers of bone are constantly found in 
British barrows, both with burnt and unburnt bodies, 
and also on the site of human occupation, some with 
perforated ends and some without. They may have 
been used to fasten some kind of shroud or to pin 
a cloth in which the ashes of the deceased were placed 
after being collected from the funeral pile. Bronze 
pins are also found in barrows as well as those made 
of bone. Illustration 2 (Plate VIII.) represents a pin 
of twisted bronze found in a barrow in England with 
burnt bones. The pin is six inches long, in the form 
of a crutch, with a perforated head. 

Illustration 3 (Plate VIII.) shews a pin (four 
and a half inches) found in an interment in Wales, 
near Carnarvon. It has a bi-loped head and three 

The two bronze pins in Illustration 4 (Plate VIII.) 
were recently found at Aldeburgh in Suffolk. They 
were washed up by a devastating high tide which flowed 
over a Saxon burying-ground. In Orford Church near 
by there is a brass which shews how the shrouds of 
the dead were pinned on with such pins. 

It may be mentioned here that the pinning of the 
shroud or covering of the dead seems to have been in 
use many centuries later, as Illustration 5 (Plate IX.) 
shews the pin which is represented fastening the pall of 
John Stratford, Archbishop of Canterbury, who died 
in 1348. His effigy is in the cloisters of Canterbury 
Cathedral. We also note that in the statue of 
Isabeau de Baviere in the Abbey Church of St. Denis 
nearly a century later (about 1425), large pins are 
portrayed as fastening some of the draperies. 

In Illustration 6 (Plate VIII.) is shewn an Irish 
example of a flat-headed bronze pin, with a small loop 


at the side. By some authorities it is thought that 
in the remains of wire which have been found attached 
to these loops in similar pins found in Central and 
Northern Europe, may be traced the embryo of the 
spring of the fibula, but we do not ourselves incline 
to this belief. This Irish pin was supposed at one 
time to have been of greater length. 

The pin shewn in Illustration 7 (Plate VIII.) was 
found at Edinburgh, and is of a different type. It has 
an expanded head turned over so as to be on the same 
plane as the pin and be visible when stuck into a 
garment. Pins of this type belong to the later part 
of the Bronze Period. 

Illustration i (Plate IX.) shews a beautiful specimen 
of a bronze pin from the lake dwellings of Switzerland. 
Its graceful shape is particularly pleasing. The rarity 
of bronze pins in the British Isles, especially in 
England, as compared with their abundance in the 
lake dwellings of Southern Europe, is very remarkable, 
as also a scarcity of bracelets and other ornaments, and 
it is conjectured by some authorities that the jet and 
amber which were so much in fashion for ornaments 
during our Bronze Age suited the native taste better 
than metal which was used for tools and weapons. 

Illustration 2 (Plate IX.) represents a Celtic bronze 
pin from Cambridgeshire, and Illustration 3 a beauti- 
fully shaped Roman pin with a fine and tapering 
point. This latter pin was found in Kent. 

Two more specimens of bronze pins are shewn in 
Illustrations 4 and 5 (Plate IX.). One is from Saxony, 
and the other from Kiev in South Russia. The 
Russian one much resembles the class of bronze pins 
from which the safety-pins were evolved. 

Almost every variety of jewellery has been found in 


I. Breast-pin found 
at Pompeii. 

2. Double Breast-pin of Gold and 
Coral, which belonged to John 
Frederick Sackville, third Duke 
of Dorset. 

3. Pin-maker's Peg, made of bone. 

4. The kind of Pin which was filed on the Peg. 

6. Round-headed Pin. 
Date, 1570. 

5. Four old Double-headed Pins. 
Date imknow7i. 

7. Brass Round-headed Pin from Scotland. 
Daie imknoivri. 


the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum, and Illustra- 
tion I (Plate X.) shews quite a different class of pin from 
any previously spoken of. It represents a breast-pin on 
which considerable artistic ingenuity has been lavished. 
It was found in the excavations at Pompeii, and 
consists of a bacchanalian figure holding a glass in 
one hand and in the other a patera or open vessel 
approaching to the form of a cup, used by the Greeks 
and Romans in their sacrifices and libations. He is 
provided with bat's wings, emblematic of the drowsi- 
ness consequent on hard drinking, and two bands of 
grapes pass across his body. 

We will now turn to comparatively modern times. 
\Some authorities think that pins more or less in their 
present form (though probably coarser) were used in 
France before they made their appearance in England, 
but however that may be, we find them in full use in 
the former country in the first half of the fourteenth 
century. Some of them were very long, and must 
have been used for the hair. The fashion then in 
use among the ladies of wearing veils, whimples 
(a habit-shirt fastened round the neck and bust), 
stomachers, lappets, kerchiefs, and horns, required 
quantities of pins, and it was by means of small 
brooches made of wire that these headgears were 
fixed on the head and fastened round the throat. 

This appears to have much exercised a contem- 
porary writer, Jehan de Mohun, as he protests in 
the Roman de la 'Rose against the encroachments of 
fashion to secure these furbelows on the head and to 
fasten them round the neck. 

"About half a dishful of pins are stuck about the 
horns and round the whimple." Then he adds : 
" Par Dieu ! Many times has my heart been wrung 


to see a lady so securely tied up that her whimple 
seemed nailed to her neck, or that the pins are 
stuck, in her flesh." And he goes on : " One must 
not admire their fastenings too close, for they sting 
worse than nettles or thistles." This is reminiscent 
of the story (told by himself) of Pepys and the pretty 
girl in church. No doubt it will be remembered by 
all : how Pepys, attending divine service one day, 
did perceive a very pretty girl in the congregation 
whose acquaintance he desired to make. He accord- 
ingly made his way towards her, doubtless wishful 
to put his arm around her, but she (evidently not 
caring for his advances) did "out with a pin," which 
effectually cooled Pepys's ardour. 

In 1347, 12,000 pins were delivered from the 
royal wardrobe for one of the French princesses, and 
in 1400 the Duchess of Orleans purchased of Jehan 
de Breconnier, epinglier of Paris, several thousand 
long and short pins, besides 500 " de la fagon d'Angle- 
terre." So that pins appear not only to have been 
manufactured in England, but to have been of high 
repute even in the reign of Henry IV. (i 399-141 3). 
This theory is borne out by the records of the Pin- 
makers' Company, of which more presently. Some 
authorities would, however, have us believe that the 
ladies in England were content to fasten their garments 
with skewers of gold, silver, brass, iron, or bone (some 
with ornamental heads), while the French ladies were 
using more delicate accessories to the toilet ; but if 
this was the case it was only by a few years that 
France was ahead of England in this respect. The 
actual date when the ordinary domestic pin came into 
general use in England is uncertain, but the Pinners, 
or Company of Pin-makers, were evidently an im- 


portant body from very early days in England, as 
in 1376 they returned two men to the Common 
Council of London, and in 1469 supplied twenty men 
to the City Watch. The arms of the Company are 
seen on the title page, i In the latter part of this century 
(fifteenth) pins were imported into this country from 
France in large numbers, and had become an article of 
sufficient importance to warrant legislative notice, as 
in 1483 the importation of pins was prohibited by 
statute. Apparently little attention, however, was 
paid to this, as in 1540 Queen Catherine Howard 
received pins from France, and Stow says in the 
zAntiquarys Tort/olio^ " This minute implement was 
thought sufficiently important to merit a parlia- 
mentary legislation. Accordingly, by Statute 37, 
Henry VIII. cap. 13, all ' pinnes ' are prohibited 
from being sold, unless they be ' double-headed ' and 
the heads soldered fast to the shank of the pinne, well 
smoothed, the shank well shaven, the point well and 
round filed, cauted, and sharpened." This Act was 
rendered necessary, as the imported pins were often of 
an inferior make and their heads had an uncomfortable 
habit of becoming loose. 

Hazlitt tells us in the book of the Livery Com- 
panies of the City of London, that the Pinners and 
Wire-workers, who had been one body at least since 
the time of Edward IV. and kept their accounts 
together, were united with the Girdlers in Elizabeth's 
reign by a charter granted to that body. In 1598 there 
appears to have been a depression in the industry, as 
the Association abandoned its Hall in Addle Street 
and removed elsewhere. The foreign importation of 
pins apparently increased instead of diminished, but 
the Pin-makers do not seem to have relinquished their 



privileges without a struggle and many bitter protests, 
and the presentation of many petitions to the authorities 
to protect them from the encroachment of the foreign 
producer, as we find from the following interesting 
petition made by the Pin-makers to Lord Burghley. 
It is given here in extenso : — 

To THE Right Honourable the Lord Burghley, 
Lord High Treasurer of England. 

"Your Lordship's godly care of the common 
wealth encourageth your humble supplicants, the 
Pinners and Needlemakers of the City of London, to 
pray your honourable ayde for restraint of foreign 
wares — pins and needles. The bringing in whereof 
is the cause that so many idle persons perish and 
miscarry for want of work. 

"Now in foreign lands the poor are so provided 
for, as the hospitals there find unto them meat, drink, 
and clothing, and the Artists have their works only 
for instructing them. 

" And in this land (now that there is not such 
provision for the poor) your supplicants using that 
trade cannot live to sell their wares at so low rate 
as foreign wares are sold. 

"But if they were restrained, many thousands 
should be daily sett on work and made common 
wealths men that now die in the streets. 

"The Premisses considered and for that there are 
above forty thousand pounds worth of pins and 
needles yearly brought into the realm which are 
nothing so good or well wrought as those are which 
are made and brought within the land'. 

" And the restraint of bringing them in will be the 


means of setting many thousands of our poor on 

" Now that lame soldiers and children, though 
they have not legs, may work on that trade, may 
it therefore please your Lordship to give your 
furtherance for revising a statute for restraint of 
foreign wares of 3 Ed. 4, 4 (i B. 3, 12), 5 El. 7 
(14 El. 11), And your supplicants according to their 
most bounden duties will continually pray for your 
Lordship's preservation in health and increase of 

History repeats itself, and this quaint and in- 
teresting petition might have been written at the 
present time, so aptly does it describe the position 
to-day of many industries in England. 

In the reign of James I. the foreign trade in pins 
was so large that it is said £60,000 a year left the 
country to pay for our imports, but in the last year 
of his reign, in 1625, the first pin manufactory of any 
size in England was founded by one John Tilsby in 
Gloucestershire, which county was long celebrated for 
its pins. In the reign of Charles I. in 1636 the 
Pinners, after existing for three centuries, perhaps by 
prescription, or as a subordinate member of other 
bodies, obtained separate letters-patent of incorpora- 
tion ; the home manufacture of pins began to grow 
more extensive and regular, and to supersede the 
foreign trade. Very little is heard or known, how- 
ever, of the Pin-makers after their incorporation, and 
the combined influence of the bodies interested in 
keeping pins under normal mercantile control was 
very strong. The Pinners' or Pin-makers' Company 
sank more or less into oblivion, the retail business of 


providing pins being, however, one of the lucrative 
specialities of the haberdashers of smallwares. 

The trade found its way to Bristol and Birming- 
ham, at which latter place, in connection with a 
previously established wire-work, it became localised. 
The pin was then " wire-headed," and fourteen or 
fifteen people were necessary for the processes re- 
quired, and the numerous details connected with the 
common pin were seized on later by Adam Smith 
as one of the most remarkable illustrations of the 
advantages of the division of labour. 

Metal pins were very expensive luxuries for some 
time after they first made their appearance in their 
present form, owing no doubt to the great amount 
of hand labour involved in the making, and in conse- 
quence they were very acceptable as New Year's gifts 
to ladies, and money given for the purchase of them 
was called " pin-money," an expression which was 
further extended to a sum of money secured by a 
husband on his marriage for the expenses of his wife's 
wardrobe and adornment. There was an ancient tax 
in France for providing the Queen with pins, which 
also may have led to the adoption of this term. The 
makers of the pins were allowed to sell them in open 
shops only on January ist and 2nd, when the Court 
ladies and city dames flocked to the depots to buy 
them. We find from the household accounts of 
Katherine, Countess of Devon, 1524, that in the 
sixteenth century the price of pins was as follows : — 

"Necessaries for my lady ... a pin case, i6d. 
. . . 1000 white pins, 8d. . . . ditto black, yd." In 
the State calendars in the reign of Henry VIII. , 1524, 
from accounts of revels held December 29th, i6th 
of Henry VIII., we learn that for i oz. ribands for 


hair laces, iid. was given, and for laton pins, 8d. 
The silver penny of this period v^^as (approximately) 
equal in value to 3yV present pence. 

John Huser the younger, when writing to Lady 
Lisle at Calais in 1534, says, "I am sending by 
Nicholas of the Hall 2 oz. of ribbon . . . and 2000 

The cost of pins was lessened in 1560. Those 
of the best quality were made of brass, superseding 
the iron pin to a great extent, but pins of iron wire 
blanched were often passed ofF as brass pins. At 
this present time pins made of brass are the best for 
all general purposes, but for use in delicate materials, 
those made from steel wire are more suitable, as the 
steel being harder than brass, the pins can be made 
finer and stronger, and do not make so large a hole 
as brass and iron pins. Many of the pretty French 
hatpins on the market are supplied with their steel 
stems by English firms. 

The pin of the present day varies very much, not 
only in size but in excellence. But there is a general 
consensus of opinion that the English pin is one of 
the best, if not the best the world produces. This 
has more or less always been recognised, and more 
than one hundred and thirty years ago in America, 
in 1775, the Congress of America offered a premium 
in that year of ;^50 for the first twenty-five dozen of 
domestic pins equal to those imported from England. 

The beautiful automatic machinery by which pins 
are now made of lengths of wire is an invention of 
the early part of the nineteenth century. In 18 17, 
a machine for producing pins with "head, shaft, and 
point in one entire piece " was invented by Seth Hunt, 
an American, thus realising a " solid-headed " pin. 


This ingenious machine was purchased in 1818 by the 
well-known firm of Kirby, Beard & Co., but does not 
appear to have been a success, and was not taken into 
general use. For some years after this attempt to 
introduce machinery, the old processes of hand manu- 
facture were continued, and no improvements took 
place of much magnitude. 

In 1824, Mr. Samuel Wright of Massachusetts 
patented a pin-making machine in England, but it 
fell to the old English firm of world-wide renown, 
already referred to, to be the pioneers in England 
of machine-made pins. This was in 1833, and, a 
little later on, a machine was invented for making 
pins with solid heads direct from wire. The pro- 
cess by which this is done is most interesting, the 
accuracy and speed of the machine being quite wonder- 
ful, and pins pointed and provided with heads are now 
produced at the rate of 180 to 220 per minute. The 
consumption of pins in Great Britain is now computed 
at several millions daily. 

Illustration 2 (Plate X.) is a beautiful example of 
a double gold pin, the large pin a little more than three 
inches long, and the smaller pin two inches long. The 
heads are of coral, and the two pins are connected by 
a gold chain three inches in length. The head of 
the larger pin is ornamented with a gold serpent 
having eyes of rubies and a diamond on its forehead. 
Pins of this description have been used during many 
epochs of the world's history, and our readers will 
remember the double bronze pin dating from the 
Bronze Age shewn them in Illustration 4 (Plate III.). 
This more modern specimen belonged to John Frederick 
Sackville, third Duke of Dorset, and was doubtless 
used to fasten the neck-cloth or cravat. 



3. I'ins on old ribbon datinc; 
back to beginning of 
19th century. 

I. Pins dating back to the 
Jacobite Rising in 1745. 

(Size, 75 in.) 

4. Three lace Pins — (a) used in tor- 
chon lace-making; {6) in Buck- 
inghamshire lace ; (c) in Iloniton 

2. Pin of later Geortjian date. 



5. Lilliputian Pins more than 
fifty years old. 


Illustration 3 (Plate X.) is very interesting, and 
represents a pin-maker's peg. This peg is made of 
bone, and is in the University Museum at Cambridge. 
The brass wire was placed in the grooves indicated in 
the illustration in order that the points might be filed. 
The marks of the file on the bone are still visible. 
The next illustration (4), Plate X., shews the kind of 
pin that was filed on the peg. The head of the 
larger pin is interesting, and illustrates very clearly 
the globular head of twisted wire made separately 
and secured to the shank. 

The four old pins shewn in Illustration 5 (Plate X.) 
are very curious. If the stem is taken between the 
finger and the thumb and twirled round whilst in that 
position, the stems seem to partly revolve, and dis- 
close markings which are not apparent at first glance, 
or when not twirled. They are double-headed pins, 
date unknown. 

Illustration 6 (Plate X.) represents a round-headed 
pin, which was found fastening a MS. dated 1570. 

Illustration 7 (Plate X.) is a brass round-headed pin 
from Scotland, date unknown. The two next illustra- 
tions belong to the Georgian period. The long pins 
(Illustration i, Plate XI.) date back to the time of 
the Jacobite rising in 1745, ^^^ the smaller one (2), 
(Plate XI.) to a little later date. 

Illustration 3 (Plate XI.) shews three old double- 
headed pins, stuck in a piece of ribbon of the same 
period, dating from the beginning of the nineteenth 
century, or a little earlier. They belonged to Margaret 
Owen, heiress of Penrhos, Anglesey, born 1742, married 
1763 to Sir John Stanley of Alderley. 

Illustration 4 (Plate XI.) shews three pins used 
in bobbin lace-making — (^) is an example of those 


used in torchon lace-making, (^b) in Buckinghamshire 
lace, and (<:) in Honiton lace. 

Pins of the present day vary greatly in size, from 
the blanket pin, three inches long, to the tiny article, 
called Lilliputian pins, or more commonly " Lills," 
shown in Illustration 5 (Plate XL). These pins are 
more than fifty years old. Those produced in the 
immediate present are still smaller, though perhaps 
not of quite so fine a make. 

Having traced the history of the pin itself from 
the beginning to the present time, we would now 
wish to speak of another aspect of this small im- 
plement which proves how well this minute article 
has kept itself to the front in the history of the 



" Beware of Tituba. I pinch the children ; 
Make little poppets and stick pins in them, 
And then the children cry out they are pricked." 
— Longfellow, Giles Corey of the Salem Farms, Act v. sc. i. 

The stories and superstitions connected with pins 
must now engage our attention ; they are of great 
interest and full of inexhaustible revelations, some 
of which breathe the enchantment of fairy lore, and 
would require a greater power of words than we 
possess to relate their numerous fascinations with the 
full justice they deserve. But pins having become in 
their modern form so entirely part of our lives, we 
accept them without a thought of their real value, or 
of what we should do without them ; it is therefore 
naturally difficult to realise the very important part 
they play, and have played for hundreds of years, 
in the drama of life. This we hope to prove to 
the world, and thus awaken a greater reverence 
for the modern pin. An endless variety of quaint 
old customs, stories, and superstitions are linked 
with their earliest existence as articles of daily neces- 
sity. They were much used for magical purposes, 
for purposes of revenge, for enchantments in all 
parts of the world, and were generally considered to 



be a protection against witches and all kinds of evil 

However, before dwelling further upon these more 
romantic aspects of the pin, let us turn to its prac- 
tical uses, believing it to be clearly understood that 
many things are called pins merely because they hold 
together and make fast different parts of different 
things ; of these we may mention the belaying-pin. 
This is a strong pin fixed in the side of a vessel, or by 
the mast, around which ropes are wound when they are 
fastened or belayed. Little iron bolts (also on vessels) 
by which capstan bars are held in their places in the 
drumhead holes are called capstan or safety pins^ In 
1489 we hear of " pinnes of woods to ioine the palys " 
{Faytes of Armes and Chyvalrye^ II. xxiv.). In 1664 
Oak is said to be " excellent for . . . pinns and peggs 
for tyling," i.e. to fasten the tiles to the roof (Evelyn, 
Syha^ p. 27). It is also part of a mechanism to convey 
or check motion, as, for instance, " a catch at the 
end of an iron pin, which prevented the pin, when 
passed through a slit, from repassing." A pin is also 
used to hang something upon — " the keys were hung 
upon a pin in the hall" {Ellwood Autobiography (1765), 
p. 98). The pin on which the keys were hung, held 
them to the wall just in the same way as the one a 
lady would use to pin a bow to her dress ; both hold 
two things together, although the pin which held 
the keys may have been a rough piece of wood or 
iron, and quite different to the pins we are accustomed 
to take from our pincushions, and which with many 
people are the beginning and end of pins in general ; 
with, of course, the exception of hairpins, hatpins, 
scarfpins, and safety-pins. The word " pin " is con- 
stantly used in conjunction with other things, such 


as "pin-money," for instance, to which reference has 
already been made in Chapter I. 

Every one has heard of pin-money, but perhaps 
not every one of pin-wells, pin-cups, pin-pictures, pin- 
games, pin-baskets, a pin of beer, a merry-pin, a 
tirling-pin, &c. &c., the meaning and uses of all of 
which we hope shortly to explain. 

When these terms were familiar to all, pins were, 
of course, of much greater value than they are now. 
But as time passed and they became cheaper and more 
plentiful, many of the old stories and superstitions 
connected with them naturally died out. Many, how- 
ever, still remain. People at the present day may be 
heard to remark, " I don't care a pin " for this, that, 
or the other; "You might have heard a pin fall"; 
" He is not worth a pin " — which remarks show plainly 
how common they have become. But though they 
are so common, and those most frequently used of 
no money value, we could hardly get on without 
them ; and if there were suddenly to be a pin famine, 
we should no doubt cry out, " My kingdom for a 
pin," as did King Richard for a horse. 

Let our readers just consider for a moment what 
one day in their lives would be without a pin of any 
kind, and they will perhaps turn with greater interest 
to the wonderful things we shall presently relate con- 
cerning them. 

There are many curious superstitions about pins, 
and we think the magical use of pins merits more 
attention than has hitherto been given to the subject. 
Of all superstitions it is the most widely spread, and 
the one most firmly fixed in the minds of our ignorant 
and poor to this day, though the enthusiastic faith 
of olden times has now passed away. That this 


faith was deeply rooted we cannot for one moment 
doubt ; it must have been, to survive as it does in this 
matter-of-fact and realistic age. There are people 
living who will not start on a journey on Friday, do 
important business on that day, or even, it is said, 
take physic. Others will not sit in a room lit by 
three candles, will never use a black pin, or form one 
of a party of thirteen at dinner. Sixty or seventy 
years ago, not only these, but hundreds of other 
superstitions were still quite common. 

The superstition of witchcraft stretches back into 
remote antiquity, and has many roots ; it is univer- 
sally spread throughout the different races of which 
the whole world is composed, and for this reason 
those who study the history of that remarkable time 
when witches and witchcraft flourished, will realise 
that belief in the supernatural was indeed deeply 
rooted, and that therefore it is not surprising some 
fragments still remain to hover round our lives. 

Witches were associated with many of the pin 
superstitions ; we all know that a witch was a person 
who had acquired supernatural power by entering into 
compact with evil spirits. She was decidedly an in- 
dividual to be avoided ; the misfortunes she produced 
were endless. She could punish her enemies in a variety 
of ways, destroy health, and cause terrible diseases by 
a glance of her evil eye. But when the tide turned 
and the trials and persecutions of witches began, it is 
proved that however horrible was the evil, the punish- 
ments were often unjust and hardly less terrible. For 
a female to be old and ill-favoured in those days was 
to live in positive peril. Any one might say she was 
a witch and expose her life to danger. The year 
1682 saw the end of executions for witchcraft, and in 


1736 the laws against it were formally repealed in 
England. The cessation of judicial proceedings did 
not, however, at once put an end to popular outrages 
on supposed witches. Far from it. In 175 1 an aged 
female pauper was killed by a mob at Tring in Herts, 
and not longer ago than 1863 a reputed wizard was 
drowned in a pond at the village of Headingham in 
Essex. There is a man still living in Suffolk who re- 
members, when a boy, seeing people trying to drown an 
old man of the name of Stebbings, who was called " The 
Wizard," in a pond called the Grimmer on Wickham 
Skeith Green. The pond was used as a ducking-pond 
for witches. From some cause or other Stebbings would 
not drown ; when they pressed his feet down in the 
water his head popped up, and when they got his head 
down then his feet would rise ; so, after several attempts 
to drown the poor old fellow, they gave it up in 
despair and allowed him to come ashore. After this 
not much faith was placed in Stebbings' supernatural 
powers. In order to test them, several boys stole his 
apples ; and as he failed to discover the thieves, he 
lost his reputation, and people ceased to employ him 
to reveal mysteries. 

Only a few years ago a woman who was dying in 
North Wales had a prickly hedge of thorns erected round 
her bed to keep off evil spirits. And in many parts 
of England to this day, if a woman has the reputation 
of being a witch, though she may not be ducked or 
pricked with pins, she is often mobbed and jeered at, 
or universally shunned. 

It is also whispered that not more than twelve or 
fourteen years ago a woman was roasted to death by her 
husband in the west of Ireland because he believed 
her to be a witch. This seems incredible, but the 


old beliefs die slowly, and in many places cannot, even 
in these enlightened days, be regarded entirely as 
creations of fancy. Therefore, when we consider the 
utter ignorance and dark superstition of those medi- 
aeval days, when the belief in witches and witchcraft 
was a kind of religion, we can hardly be surprised at 
the power with which this faith then ruled mankind, 
and it seems only natural that precautions should 
have been taken, and antidotes sought for, as a pro- 
tection against them. 

It has already been said that pins were much used 
for this purpose, probably because being pointed instru- 
ments they could easily injure or hurt, and one way 
of proving a woman to be a witch who was suspected 
of being one, was to prick her with pins. A pin was 
inserted into various parts of her body, to see if she 
had that partial insensibility to pain which was 
understood to be an undoubted proof of the witch 

Pins were also used as charms for the prevention 
and cure of various diseases, to keep off bad dreams, 
to prevent ill-luck, to bring good luck, besides wound- 
ing one's enemies. A piece of bacon stuck full of 
pins was sometimes hung in a chimney to intercept 
witches in their descent and so prevent their visit. 
In Scotland stockings were hung crossways at the 
foot of the bed with a pin stuck in them to keep off 
the nightmare. It was also believed that pins would 
cure warts, and one way of doing this was to make 
the sign of a cross on each wart with a pin, and then 
throw it away. There is an old woman now living 
in Suffolk who cures warts in this way. 

In Somersetshire it is believed that ague can be 
cured by getting a large spider and putting it in a 


box. The ague will disappear as the spider starves, 
and when it is dead will leave the patient entirely. 
This is evidently a remnant of the old orthodox 
waxen manikin stuck full of pins, which, some 
sixty years ago, was still much in use for purposes 
of revenge. The Flemings called dwarfs " menikin " ; 
from which, no doubt, our term " manikin " comes, 
and " minikin " (small pins). The wax or clay image 
called the manikin was supposed to represent the one 
to whom you wished ill, and by piercing the image 
with pins, whoever it represented was supposed also to 
be pierced. For the charm to take proper effect, the 
name of the person to be injured should be written 
upon the breast of the image. Lord Avebury, citing 
Dubois, tells us the manikin superstition existed in 
India, only thorns were used instead of pins as 
piercing instruments. 

This experiment was practised in all parts of the 
world, and is one of the commonest criminal acts 
recorded of magicians. 

There was a plot to kill Rameses III. in this way, 
and other instances from the Chaldean tablets, as well 
as from the Babylonian and Assyrian inscriptions 
generally. Horace mentions these dolls ; and Medea 
and other enchantresses made use of them. In the 
reign of Charles IX. of France such images were 
found in the house of La Mole, and it was said that 
he procured them in order to accomplish the death of 
Charles, then labouring under a mortal disease. He 
was condemned for having them, and suffered death 
on the scaffold. 

Longfellow's play, Giles Corey of the Salem Farms^ 
is founded on the witchcraft superstitions of the New 


England States. The scene is Salem in 1692. In 
Act iii. sc. 2 we find the following passage : — 

" What most convinced me of the woman's guilt 
Was finding hidden in her cellar wall 
Those poppets made of rags, with headless pins 
Stuck into them point outwards." 

The Duchess of Gloucester's endeavour to kill 
Henry VL, whether the story be true or false, has 
found a place in history. We are also told that the life 
of Pope Urban VL was attempted in a similar manner. 
The practice is heard of at Inverness in the earlier 
part of the eighteenth century, and similar acts of 
" perfidy" were practised at a much later time among 
the North American Indians. In 1677 Sir George 
Maxwell of Pollok is said to have been bewitched 
and tormented by means of waxen and clay images, 
the pins in which, we are told, had been put there 
by the devil himself. From The Diary of a Lady- 
in- Waiting, by Lady Charlotte Bury, we learn that 
" unhappy Queen Caroline, when Princess of Wales, 
was extremely outspoken to correspondents regarding 
her husband. ' The only astonishing news I can offer 
you,' writes the Princess on one occasion, ' is that the 
Regent is dangerously ill ; still, I am not sanguine 
enough to flatter myself that the period to all my 
troubles and misfortunes is yet to come. Yet one 
must hope for the best.' " " After dinner," writes 
Lady Charlotte Bury on another occasion, " her Royal 
Highness made a wax figure as usual and gave it an 
amiable addition of large horns ; then took three pins 
out of her garment and stuck them through and 
through, and put the figure to roast and melt at 
the fire. If it was not too melancholy to have 


^/ . 

Calf's Heart stuck lull of I'ins. (Size, 3^ in. x 3 in.) 

I'roDi a Specimen in the National Altiseiiin of 
Antiquities, Edinburgh. 

Clay Model of a Human I'igure called 
I "Corp Chreadh." (Size, S^t in. long.) 

'rom a Specimen in the University Museum 
f Archceology and Ethnology, Catnl'ridge. 



to do with this, I could have died of laughing. 
Lady says the Princess indulges in this amuse- 
ment whenever there are no strangers at table ; and 
she thinks her Royal Highness really has a super- 
stitious belief that destroying this effigy of her hus- 
band will bring to pass the destruction of his royal 

An interesting link with the past has only lately 
been severed, by the death of an old man in Somerset- 
shire who was well acquainted with the use of the wax 
doll, and had known people who, having a deep grudge 
against some one, really made wax dolls, stuck them 
with pins and placed them near the fire to melt, believ- 
ng the victims they represented would waste away also. 

A story is told of a certain vice-chancellor of the 
^Jniversity of Cambridge who prohibited a play. 
This led to an undergraduate making a clay figure 
of the offending dignitary and sticking it full of 
pins. It is said the vice-chancellor had a bad attack 
of the gout afterwards ! 

In Wales a toad sometimes took the place of the 
wax or clay image for purposes of revenge. Pins 
were stuck into the toad, and as the poor thing 
withered and died, the person it represented was ex- 
pected to do the same. The bones of a toad that had 
been used in this cruel way are now in the possession 
of a lady in North Wales. 

Illustration i (Plate XII.) shews a clay model of a 
human figure, the breast being stuck full of pins. It is 
called a " Corp-Chreadh " (clay body or corpse), from 
Islay, Scotland, and is preserved in the University 
Museum of Archasology and Ethnology at Cambridge. 
I as intended when freshly made to be put in a pool 
c water, and as the clay dissolved, so did the person 



represented also melt away. The pins must have 
been put in to make this process as painful as possible. 

Other pin superstitions were of a very remarkable 
character, and when we inform our readers that there 
were instances of people vomiting pins, we must beg 
a little patience on their part whilst we explain that 
this also was considered to be the work of witches, 
who forced their victims to swallow pins. (How 
welcome must have been their happy return, as 
described above, we can well imagine !) Sometimes, 
however, they were swallowed willingly with the object 
of wounding the evil spirits of which the swallower 
believed himself to be possessed. Others are said to 
have brought up crooked pins without any particular 
reason, or preparation of any kind, and it was merely 
thought to be one of the numerous signs of their 
being bewitched. 

Strange to say, there are many instances of people 
vomiting pins; here is one of the year 1606. "In 
this year there was a gentlewoman and near kinswoman 
to Dr. Holland's wife, rector of Exon College, Oxford, 
strangely bewitched. In her fits she cast out of her 
nose and mouth pins in great abundance, and did 
various things very strange to be reported." (From 
the diary of Walter Young. Camden Society.) 

That witches forced their victims to swallow pins 
is specially stated in an account given in the Witches 
of Renfrewshire (Paisley, 1809) of the bewitching of 
a young girl named Christian Shaw, daughter of John 
Shaw of Bargarran, a man of some note in the county. 
Christian fell into a dead faint, and on recovering, 
she is said to have " put out of her mouth a great 
number of pins," which she declared " J. R." had forced 
into her mouth. Besides pins this young girl is said 


to have vomited many other things, such as straw, 
hair, &c., but it appears that from the time when 
a ball of hair was found in the pocket of one of her 
tormentors she " put forth" no more. On loth June 
1697, seven witches were burnt for the above-named 
Christian Shaw. 

It would be hard to imagine anything much more 
disagreeable to swallow than straw and hair, and it 
is satisfactory to learn that when such things had to 
be done they were speedily " put forth," to use the 
elegant expression of that day. It is also a comfort 
to know that there were antidotes for these strange 
bewitchments, and at the present time we should very 
soon pop a ball of hair into the pocket of any one 
we suspected of being a witch or tormentor of this 

An extract from the Daily Mail of February 1903 
shews that people were then still swallowing pins, but 
they do not appear to have " put them forth " from 
" mouth and nose " as neatly as did Miss Christian 
Shaw of Bargarran. Three doctors were studying the 
case of the young woman at Naples, and the needles 
and pins issuing from all parts of her body in a most 
elaborate manner. 

" Girl sheds Needles. — Three doctors are study- 
ing the extraordinary case of a young woman, a victim of 
hysteria, from whose body pins and needles have been 
issuing for some time past. An examination by means 
of the Rontgen rays shews that there are still a large 
number of needles and pins in the young woman's 
body. The doctors are at a loss to explain the 
phenomenon, but it is supposed that the girl eats the 
pins and needles when in an hysterical fit. Admitting 
this, it is still difficult to explain how they find their 


way out at her extremities. The girl is said to be 
a spirit medium and to have made extraordinary 
revelations when in trances." 

The heart is, for obvious reasons, the most 
remarkable type of charm, and at one time the real 
heart of a cow, sheep, or cock, in which pins were 
inserted, was much used in black magic. The 
following bit of Devonshire folk-lore is interesting 
as giving an instance of this magic, in some cases 
called " heart magic " ; it also introduces to our notice 
Mother Sunshine, a white witch, able to counteract 
the evil influences of black witches. 

" ' Once upon a time ' — in reality about fifty years 
ago — there existed in a South Devon village two 
' Black Witches ' named Paddy Goselin and Mary 
Ann Pyecraft. A certain farmer incurred the anger 
of Paddy Goselin by pressing for payment of some 
money he owed. In revenge Paddy Goselin said he 
would put a spell on the farmer's cattle. Seven 
bullocks went mad and four died in great agony with 
their tongues lolling out. (Probably Paddy Goselin 
gave them yew branches to eat, which would have that 
effect.) The farmer sent to a white witch in a neigh- 
bouring village (named Mother Sunshine). She told 
him to take the heart of one of the dead bullocks, 
stick it full of pins and nails and hang it up in the 
kitchen chimney, and he did so. The still living 
bullocks quite recovered, and no other cattle suffered. 
My friend, Mr. CoUyer, knew the man who acted 
for the farmer, and got him to prepare a heart exactly 
as used by Mother Sunshine." (From a pamphlet by 
Edward Lovett on English Charms^ Amulets^ and 

In Durham there used to be a superstition that 


if any one was bewitched, the author of the evil could 
be discovered by stealing a black cock, out of which 
the heart was taken and stuck full of pins ; if the 
heart was roasted at "the dead hour of night," the 
double of the witch would then come and nearly pull 
the door down. If the double was not seen, any one 
who had had a remarkably bad night was fixed upon 
as the culprit. This is indeed a blood-curdling tale, 
and when we talk of the " dead hour of the night," 
stealing black cocks and cutting out their hearts, it 
makes one shudder and cast anxious glances into the 
dark corners of the room. 

No one knows exactly why a black cock should 
be sacrificed on these occasions, but Lady Wilde in 
her Ancient Legends of Ireland tells us that ancient 
Egypt and Greece had also superstitions on the sub- 
ject of sacrificing a cock. And it is worthy of note 
that a cock bore witness, by his crowing, of St. Peter's 

Lady Wilde also tells us that in some parts of 
Ireland on St. Patrick's Day a black cock is sacrificed 
in honour of the saint, though no one can tell why 
it is considered necessary that blood should be spilt, 
except that the idea of sacrifice is found in all re- 
ligions and rituals of worship, and blood must be 
shed to purify from sin. 

A calf's heart stuck full of old wire-headed pins, 
formerly used as a charm against witchcraft, is preserved 
in the National Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh. 
This is another instance of "heart magic." It was 
discovered beneath the floor of an old house at 
Dalkeith, and was presented to the Museum in 1827. 
(Plate XII., Illustration 2.) 

The whole of the district that lies in the imme- 



diate neighbourhood of Westminster Abbey is of 
great interest, and in Great College Street and some 
of the adjoining streets have been found at different 
times many proofs of the antiquity of this spot. An 
old mill stream formerly wound its way along the 
line of Great College Street, and during recent ex- 
cavations in what was formerly the course of the 
stream were discovered a variety of small articles. 
Amongst them was a " greybeard " jug corked down, 
and when opened it was found to contain a small 
piece of cloth or serge, formerly red, of the shape 
of a heart, and stuck full of round-headed brass 
pins ; a small quantity of supposed human hair, and 
some clippings of finger-nails. These must once have 
constituted a malevolent charm, the intended victim 
of which was most likely a woman. 

When old buildings are pulled down or excava- 
tions made, curious relics are frequently discovered. 
In the year 1858 an old cottage in the north of 
Scotland was demolished, and in the earth near the 
foundations of the walls five or six bottles were found 
containing human hair, pins, needles, and foetid fluid. 

In a volume of Norfolk Annals published in 1 843 
we find a curious story about pins in connection with 
witchcraft, which seems to have been told to the 
Norwich magistrates. A certain Mr. and Mrs. Curtis 
accused a certain Mrs. Bell of having bewitched them 
three days after Tombland Fair, and they had been 
bewitched ever since. Mrs. Curtis said she saw 
Mrs. Bell light a candle and fill it with pins. She 
then proceeded to put some red dragon's blood with 
some water into an oyster shell, and, having repeated 
a form of words over it, her (Mrs. Curtis's) husband's 
arms and legs were set fast, and when he lay down 


he could not get up again without help. The man 
confirmed this statement, and said that Mrs. Bell 
added some parings of her own nails to the dragon's 
blood and water and put the mixture over the fire, 
muttering incantations. Poor Mrs. Curtis's husband ! 
history does not relate if he eventually recovered the 
use of his arms and legs, or if they were for ever 
"set fast" by Mrs. Bell's bewitchments. 



" Alas ! poor Romeo, he is already dead ! stabbed with a white wench's 
black eye, shot through the ear with a love-song : the very pin of his heart 
cleft with the blind bow-boy's butt-shaft." — Romeo and Juliet, Act ii. so. 4. 

Many of the pin superstitions were of a very romantic 

character, and therefore of particular interest, as there 

are few lives into which romance has not crept at 

some time or other. 

What it is that really makes the world go round 

has been a subject of speculation to learned and 

scientific men in all ages, and we do not pretend to 

know if they have yet arrived at any satisfactory 

conclusion. The poets, however, have no hesitation 

on the subject ; they say, " Oh, 'tis love, 'tis love, 

'tis love that makes the world go round." This is, 

anyway, a very charming idea, and people deeply in 

love are naturally glad to put the feelings of the 

object of their affections to the test, and would 

willingly try all kinds of superstitious nonsense to 

prove to themselves that they not only love, but are 

loved in return. We have heard of love potions and 

spells, and the following tale, which is calculated to 

bring tears to the eyes in more senses than one, may 

be of use to some of our readers. If a lover did not 

visit his sweetheart as often as she wished, she roasted 



an onion stuck full of ounce pins. The pins must 
have never been through paper, and were supposed 
to prick his wandering heart and bring him to his 
lady's feet. Perhaps an onion was chosen because it 
may have been thought to resemble a human heart, 
or perhaps because the smell of an onion when cooked 
is strong and carries far, and a pathetic message might 
in this way be wafted through the air to the lover, 
who, his heart thus pricked by the pins, and his nose 
tickled by the appetising odour and the pleasures of 
anticipation, would more quickly return to his sweet- 

Particular days and seasons seem to have been 
looked upon in all countries as favourable to the 
working of charms and superstitious practices. They 
are all more or less mixed up with religion, and many 
are well known to have descended to us from pagan 

In Guernsey the powers of darkness are thought 
to be unusually active between Christmas and the 
New Year, and it is considered dangerous to be out 
after dark ; for then, devils, witches, fairies, and 
goblins are abroad and active. Perhaps these being 
the darkest and longest nights of the year may be 
one reason why they are selected for performing spells 
by which the secrets of the future may be revealed. 
Many other days and nights are also considered 
suitable for the working of spells and charms. 

The 29th of February, for instance, as it only 
comes once in four years, is peculiarly auspicious 
to those who desire to have a glance into the future, 
especially to young girls burning with anxiety to 
know what their husbands will be like. The charm 
to be adopted is the following : Twenty-seven of 


the smallest pins made must be stuck three by three 
into a tallow candle ; the candle must then be lit up 
at the wrong end and placed in a candlestick made 
of clay, which clay must have been taken from a 
virgin's grave. The candlestick should be placed 
solemnly upon the left-hand corner of the chimney- 
piece, exactly as the clock strikes twelve. This must 
not be done before or after the clock strikes, but 
during the strokes. The young person working this 
charm ought now to go to bed, but on no account 
to sleep, for the candle must be watched, and when 
it has quite burnt out, the pins must be put into the 
left shoe. All being ready sleep may now be sought, 
and before nine nights have passed away fate will reveal 

For St. John's Eve (June 23rd) a new pincushion 
of the very best black velvet (no inferior quality will 
do) is necessary. On one side the name of the person 
concerned must be stuck in full length with the 
smallest pins procurable (none other will do). On 
the other side a cross must be made with very large 
pins surrounded by a circle, also of pins. Place the 
pincushion in a stocking taken off at night, and still 
warm from contact with its owner's foot. The stocking 
should then be hung at the foot of the bed, and if 
these directions have been carefully followed, the 
future life of the owner of the pincushion and the 
stocking will pass before her during the night in 
a dream. 

These are very elaborate programmes, and it would 
be difficult to carry them out to the letter ; but 
doubtless the end to be obtained is worth much 
trouble. St. John the Baptist is usually represented 
with a long wand in his hand surmounted by a cross ; 


this may give a reason for the cross put up on the 
black velvet pincushion. St. John's Eve is also kept 
as a holiday and fete in most Christian lands, it is 
therefore naturally thought to be a favourable night 
for inviting dreams. 

St. Agnes' Eve (January 20th) was formerly a 
night of great importance to young v^^omen who wished 
to know whom they would marry. " St. Agnes, virgin 
and martyr, a.d. 304, suffered martyrdom so young 
and with such fortitude, that the tongues and pens 
of all nations " — says St. Jerome — " are employed to 
celebrate her praise. Her legend (one of the earliest 
in the Christian Church) says she refused to become 
the wife of the son of the Roman Prefect, having 
devoted herself to the service of God, and he, in 
revenge, denounced her as a Christian. Upon her 
refusal to sacrifice to the gods, she was brutally 
tortured and stripped, and angels immediately veiled 
her whole person with her hair. Her persecutors 
then lighted a large pile of faggots, and threw her 
into the midst ; and the flames were at once extin- 
guished without at all injuring her. She was then 
beheaded. Some time after her death, while her 
parents were praying by her grave, she appeared to 
them with a glorified aspect and a white lamb by her 
side, and bade them dry their tears, for she was 
united for ever to her Saviour in Heaven." (From 
The Calendar of the Anglican Church.) 

No doubt the beautiful life of this youthful 
martyr, her fortitude under torture and devotion 
in death, have kept the memory of St. Agnes green, 
and St. Agnes' Eve for ever consecrated to young 
maidens and their dreams of love and marriage. 

The following is a good receipt to be used on 


this night by young men and women who wish to 
catch a glimpse of their future wives or husbands. 
A row of pins is taken, and whilst each pin is being 
pulled out separately, a paternoster must be said. 
Then, if one pin is stuck into the sleeve, the future 
will be revealed in a dream. This is a very simple 
mode of settling a most momentous question. 

There seem to be many ingenious ways of doing 
this, and in some places they take the blade-bone of a 
rabbit, stick nine pins in it, and then put it under their 
pillows, and during the night they are sure to see the 
object of their affections. 

Twelfth-Night was at one time thought auspicious, 
not only for dreams, but for revels of rather a peculiar 
and amusing description. On this night boys assembled 
round pastry-cooks' shops, where tempting goods dis- 
played in the windows attracted passers-by to linger. 
They used quickly and dexterously to nail the coat- 
tails of those people who ventured near enough, to 
the bottom of the window frames, or pin them 
together strongly by their clothes. Sometimes eight 
or ten persons would find themselves thus pinned 
together, and in order to escape they must either 
leave part of their coat behind them, or go off with 
a hole in it. Shouts of laughter from the perpe- 
trators and spectators filled the air, and it often 
happened that the one who laughed most at the deten- 
tion of another, would turn round and find himself 
also unable to move. All efforts to gain freedom 
increased the mirth, nor was the presence of a police- 
man able to stop the mischief. 

This must indeed have been a cheery game, to put 
it mildly, and one can easily imagine it would have 
been hard work for even a large party of policemen to 


put a stop to so wild a scene when the revels were at 
their height. 

St. Thomas' Eve is another favourite night for the 
working of love spells and charms, and in Guernsey 
Folk-Lore^ edited by Miss Edith Carey, we learn 
that on this night girls who wish to know whom they 
will marry must go through several mysterious rites 
when retiring to bed. They must first of all secure a 
golden pippin and pass two pins crossways through it, 
and then lay it down under their pillow. Opinions 
differ as to the exact way in which this ritual should 
be performed. It is thought best by some to wrap the 
pippin up in the stocking taken from the left leg ; others 
take this stocking off last, and throw it over the left 
shoulder. We do not know which is right, but there 
seems to be no doubt as to what follows. It is abso- 
lutely necessary to get into bed backwards. All that 
has gone before is useless if the bed is reached in any 
other way, and the following incantation must then be 
repeated three times : — 

" Saint Thomas, Saint Thomas, 
Le plus court, le plus bas, 
Fais moi voir en m'endormant 
Celui qui sera mon amant, 
Et le pays, et le contre'e 
Ou il fait sa demeure'e, 
Et le metier qu'il salt faire 
Devant moi qu'il vienne faire 
Qu'il soit beau ou qu'il soit laid. 
Tel qu'il sera je I'aimerai. 
Saint Thomas, fait moi la grace 
Que je le vols, que je I'embrasse 
Ainsi soit il." 

Not another word must be spoken, and, if the rite has 
been duly performed, the desired knowledge will be 
communicated in a dream. 


Another charm consists in placing fronds of agri- 
mony, each bearing nine leaflets, crosswise under the 
pillow, and securing them by two new pins, also crossed. 
The future husband will then appear in a dream. 

Children in Guernsey do not forget the ist April. 
They use crooked pins to fasten long shreds of paper 
or bits of rag to the clothes of passers-by, and then cry 
out as loud as they can bawl, " La Coue ! La Co<ie ! " 
or *' La folle Agnes." No one knows the reason of 
the last exclamation. 

These islanders also tell us how to remove a spell 
and cause the person who cast it to appear. This 
knowledge may be useful, though the preparations are 
certainly gruesome. But, if a spell has to be removed, 
the superstitious, though they may be very tender- 
hearted, will stick at nothing. In this case, alas ! a 
pigeon must be killed, and its heart plucked out. 
The heart must be stuck all round with new pins, and 
then thrown into a pot of boiling water. A piece of 
green turf is used as a cover to the pot, and must be put 
on with the earth downwards. A good fire of wood 
or charcoal must be carefully kept up, and at the end 
of an hour the heart is thrown into the burning embers. 
If all the doors and windows are carefully closed, the 
sorcerer will come and call, or knock at the door, 
but it must on no account be opened until he has 
promised to remove the spell. 

On St. Thomas' Eve in Derbyshire girls used 
to procure a large red onion, into which, after it 
was peeled, they stuck nine pins, and said : — 

" Good St. Thomas, do me right, 
Send me my true love this night. 
In his clothes and his array 
Which he weareth every day." 


One pin was placed in the centre, and the other 
eight stuck round it. The centre one was given 
the name of the " true love." The onion thus 
prepared was placed under the pillow on going to 
bed, and the girl dreamt of the right person. 

There is a curious superstition connected with 
the Chapel of St. Aldhelm (built in the twelfth 
century), St. Aldhelm's Head, Dorsetshire, one of 
the oldest and smallest churches in England. It is 
only about thirty feet square, and the vaulted stone 
roof, low and slightly pyramidal, is supported by 
arches which spring from a central pillar. There is 
a superstition connected with the pillar to the effect 
that if a pin is put in a certain hole while a wish 
is mentally registered, the wish will be fulfilled. We 
are told tradition connects the practice with a wish 
"for a husband," and that possibly young girls still 
put their pins into the hole and wish. 

Indo-Mohammedan folk-lore provides us with a 
charming story of an enchantment worked with pins. 

A sorceress having fallen deeply in love with 
a fascinating prince, is naturally much injured on 
finding her advances rejected, and plans revenge. 
She determines to surprise the prince on coming 
from the bath ; and having provided herself with 
a bag, which she takes from her girdle at the right 
moment and blows upon, a shower of pins fly from 
it and pierce the prince in every part of his body, 
till he falls insensible. Many years afterwards a 
princess having lost her way in the jungle, suddenly 
comes upon a ruined city and palace. She enters 
the palace, and there, extended on a couch, lies the 
prince, his body full of pins. She pulls them all 
out, thus destroying the spell ; and the prince, restored 


to health and vigour, being more fascinating than 
ever, imagination supplies the sequel. 

This is a delightful specimen of the pin super- 
stitions from, perhaps, the most romantic part of 
the whole British Empire. They existed in great 
variety in all parts of the world ; some still exist ; 
and in Russia, to this day, it is an omen of evil to 
meet a priest on leaving a house, which can be 
charmed away only by throwing a pin at him if you 
are a woman, and by spitting on his beard if you 
are a man. This is rather unpleasant, but in Iceland 
a much more revolting superstition was practised. If 
there was any fear that a man would walk after 
his death, pins and needles were thrust into the feet 
of the corpse ; but to drive a nail into a dead man's 
tomb in the interval that passes between the reading of 
the epistle and the gospel, was a less offensive remedy 
and seems to have been thought equally efficacious. 

We still sometimes think it necessary to give 
a small piece of money in return for the present 
of a knife or a pair of scissors, as they are other- 
wise considered unlucky presents to receive. Some 
trifle given in return is thought to break the spell. 
This superstition existed with the rest in days gone 
by, and it was thought then, as it is now, unlucky 
to give a knife, a pair of scissors, or any sharp instru- 
ment to a person one loved, as these things would 
cut love and friendship. If a pin or a farthing 
were given in return the ill effects might be eluded. 
Lord Byron is said to have given Lady Blessington 
a pin which he frequently wore in his breast, for 
a keepsake. But he afterwards begged her to accept 
a chain instead, " as memorials with a point are of 
less fortunate augury." 


In some countries a charm is used by one un- 
married person to compel the love of another, " to turn 
the heart " of the indifferent ; but the sad story of 
Ben Hudson and his wife shews that a charm was 
also used to regain a husband's love. At Derby, on 
15th July 1873, Benjamin Hudson was found guilty 
of having murdered his wife, and was condemned to 
be hanged. In the pocket of the murdered woman 
was found a purse containing some pins and a piece 
of paper, on which the deceased had written :■ — 

" It's not the pins I mean to burn, 
But Ben Hudson's heart I mean te turn ; 
Let him neither eat, speak, drink, nor comfort find, 
Till he comes to me and speaks his mind." 

The husband was twenty-four and the wife twenty- 
three. They seem to have cared for each other in 
spite of their quarrels and jealousies, and the charm, 
no doubt, was to regain her husband's love. 

About seventy years ago a curious custom pre- 
vailed at Grantham. Girls used to go and peep into 
the crypt belonging to Grantham Church (at that 
time full of bones, which were still there in 1857, 
but have now been cleared away, and the crypt used 
for the heating apparatus of the church), and every 
time they did so they threw in a pin, to prevent bad 
luck, or perhaps as a kind of " douceur " to the 
ghosts which might be supposed to hang about the 
place ; in consideration of which they were expected 
to refrain from haunting the person who had thus 
" remembered " them. Money would have been 
thrown away in such a cause, and so a metallic object 
which scarcely any one would fail to be able to give 
may have been taken as its symbol, and no doubt 
it passed for money's worth in the shades below ! 



Young people, like fools, rush in " where angels fear 
to tread," and one can well imagine the timorous 
joy of peeping into this gloomy abode, the doing of 
which they no doubt believed would lead to endless 
misfortune, but for the pins thrown in with fervent 

An old lady who died in the early part of the last 
century thought it unlucky to meet a funeral ; so 
whenever she went out driving, took a store of pins 
in her carriage, and was happy in the belief that if 
on meeting a funeral she threw plenty of pins out of 
the carriage window, this would avert any ill-luck the 
encounter might otherwise have caused. 

It would, no doubt, be a great relief to many 
superstitious people now if, when obliged to pass 
under a ladder, or when caught unawares by a new 
moon on looking out of a closed window without 
having first consulted an almanack, they could throw 
pins about and thus disperse the ill effects of such 
unfortunate circumstances. 

A volume of Curious Articles from the " Gentleman' s 
Magazine^'' published in 1809, furnishes some inter- 
esting details concerning the swallowing of pins and 
fish-bones, which may be useful, as this custom, 
though not romantic, is still in fashion, and has often 
been the cause of very dangerous, and sometimes fatal, 
results ; for, upon dissecting patients, it has been found 
they have been killed by pins. In April 1777, a young 
woman who had swallowed a very large pin which 
stuck fast in her throat was taken to the hospital at 
Bamborough Castle, Northumberland. The doctor 
who then had the principal management of that 
hospital was sent for, and found the patient in great 
pain. Having some time before studied the nature of 


these accidents, he immediately gave her four grains 
of tartar emetic dissolved in warm water, and then 
made her swallow the white of six eggs, and in about 
three minutes it all returned with the pin, and she was 
effectually relieved. The same treatment was suc- 
cessful in an instance nearly resembling the above. 
It seems hardly credible, but a maid-servant to the 
Honourable Mrs. Baillie of Mellerstain, in Scotland, 
went to bed with twenty-four pins in her mouth. 
The consequence was that in the night the family 
were alarmed by her screams. Mr. Baillie ordered 
her an emetic and the whites of eggs, as above ; the 
whole number of pins reappeared, and, we are told, 
are preserved in the family as curiosities. 

We will now turn to pleasanter subjects, and speak 
of our sailors, who, though the bravest of men and the 
most romantic, are proverbially superstitious, and pay 
great attention to anything that bears in the smallest 
degree upon the subject. Amongst other things, they 
used to believe that pins were spiteful witches and 
should never be brought on board ship, as they would 
bring more ill with them than the opening of Pandora's 
box itself. 

There is a great sameness of diet on board a smack, 
but the quantity consumed is prodigious. It is some- 
times a little varied by exchanges with passing vessels 
and occasional parcels by the carrier boat. In order 
to shew how great was the superstitious fear of pins 
amongst sailors, we relate the tale of a parcel sent on 
board a vessel wrapped in a clean white napkin 
fastened with pins. The parcel contained a large 
apple tart. It was clear something was amiss directly 
it was handed on board. One man held the parcel ; 
the captain cautiously took out each pin, and, with 


arm extended to the uttermost, carefully dropped 
them over into the sea to drown, the whole ceremony- 
being gone through separately with each pin. The 
captain then seriously and solemnly assured every 
one present that pins were spiteful witches and ought 
never to be brought on board a vessel. He afterwards 
declared that to these pins he owed a leak necessitating 
pump-work every half-hour ; a more than usually 
large number of holes in their nets ; and, finally, the 
loss of all their gear in a heavy sea which compelled 
them to return immediately to port. 



" Flow on, then, for ever, thou clear crystal rill. 
Flow on, then, exhaustless, from out of the hill ; 
May beauty oft seek thee to muse on the spell 
That clings to the pins as they sink in the well." ' 

In those good old days when there were dragons, 
seven-headed serpents, wizards, giants, and all kinds 
of delightful people that charm the hearts of children, 
there were also many other wonderful and fabulous 
things ; we have even heard of a glass mountain, 
at the top of which lived a beautiful princess who 
would only accept as a husband he who could scale 
the slippery heights of glass and claim her hand 
in person ! But who ever heard of Pin Hill — a hill 
of pins ? Once upon a time, however, about seventy 
years ago, there was a place on the west side of Hard- 
wicke Hill, in the parish of Scotton, Lincolnshire, 
called Pin Hill, and though not high enough to climb, 
it was none the less strange on that account ; for at 
this spot a mound about the size of a heap of gravel 
lay by the roadside, composed of pins and broken 
tobacco pipes. The pins were not brittle, nor were 
they in any way different from common pins. The 
story in the neighbourhood was, that a ship laden with 
pins had been wrecked there. Why these things were 
deposited on Scotton Common it is impossible to 
say, but there must have been some good magical 
reason for it. We have ascertained from a resident 
in that neighbourhood, that Pin Hill is only three- 



quarters of a mile from the river Trent, which at this 
point is tidal, and sea-going vessels can, and do, come 
up at high tide. The intervening ground between 
Pin Hill and the river is flat, some of it at any rate 
below the level of the river, so that before the banking 
of the Trent by the Dutch (supposed to have taken 
place during the reign of Charles II.) it would have 
been quite possible for a small vessel to have been 
wrecked, or to have run aground there. Pin Hill is 
quite thirty miles from the sea, and is still known 
by that name, though our correspondent from the 
neighbourhood has never heard of the mound of pins, 
nor has he smoked any of the tobacco pipes ! 

There must, of course, have been some good foun- 
dation for this story, but we can find no more pin 
hills ! There were, however, amongst the Holy wells 
with which the world is scattered, a great number 
that in Great Britain especially were called Pin wells ; 
many still exist, and there is no superstition stronger 
than a belief in the curative powers of their waters. 
Travellers have described the votive offerings left 
upon the trees that shadow the sacred walls of Persia, 
Egypt, and other distant lands ; they were tokens of 
gratitude to the patron saint of the well, for health 
restored or blessings received at them. The pins 
thrown in were to propitiate the saints to whom the 
wells were dedicated, and represented the more pre- 
cious ofl^erings of olden days. These offerings pro- 
bably originated in the pagan worship of water (water 
being one of the greatest blessings), though through 
the lapse of ages they have lost some of their original 
significance, and are now practised more as ancient 
customs, which, having come down to us through 
many generations, are naturally looked upon with great 


reverence. A well is a magnet to which all are drawn 
in every land, be it desert or city, and much that 
is beautiful has been written about them. At the 
Well of Wisdom under the protection of the god 
Mimir, Odin by drinking thereof became the wisest 
of all beings. " Truth is said to lie at the bottom of 
a well, and surely beauty is always found at its surface. 
Here earth bares her breasts to all her children, and 
trees, and beasts, and men alike drink of her strength. 
In our childhood's stories what significance lay in the 
name of a well ! In the sweetest fairy-tales how often 
has imagination drunk its fill at the Magic Well ! 
And in the Book of Life itself history has paused 
at the well-side to tell some of her most beautiful 
stories." This passage, from the late Lieutenant 
Boyd Alexander's book. From the Niger to the 
Nile, shews we are not receding from the regions 
of romance when we take up the subject of wells, 
but rather advancing into the very heart of that 
mysterious land ; though the wells we shall shortly 
refer to are not like those he describes, " in a country 
of fierce heat," but are situated in different parts of 
the British Isles, and from time to time beyond the 
memory of man have been held to cure diseases. 
One well is reputed to be good for sprains, another 
is good for sore eyes, another enables the deaf to 
hear, and yet another cures nervous diseases. No 
doubt in very ancient times it was enough to wash 
the lame leg or bathe the sore eyes with the 
water of these Holy wells, having perfect faith in 
their power to cure ; but, later, offerings were made. 
" The custom of throwing pins into sacred wells, and 
of tying rags to bushes, especially to bushes growing 
near to sacred wells, has exercised students in folk- 


lore ever since folk-lore came to be studied. They 
seem such odd practices that — until one has learnt 
that most human practices, however odd and senseless 
they may appear, have their reasons and are not mere 
caprices — it is not easy to suppose they ever had a 
reasonable basis. When one knows there is a hidden 
meaning, the question ' What is that meaning ? ' has 
been a very perplexing one. If a suggestion is oftered 
it is hardly in the hope of settling the matter so 
much as of drawing attention to a habit of archaic 
thought running through many a habit of archaic 
practice, and possibly therefore aiFecting the customs. 
In the customs at wells, trees, and temples we have 
another application of the same reasoning as that 
which underlies the practices of witchcraft. If an 
article of my clothing in a witch's hands may make 
me suffer, the same article in contact with a beneficial 
person will relieve my pain and restore me to health 
and wealth. A pin that pricked my wart, has by its 
contact acquired a peculiar bond with the wart, so that 
whatever is done to the pin, the same is brought to 
bear upon the wart. If my name is written upon the 
walls of a temple, or a stone from my hand cast upon 
a sacred image, it is henceforth in continual con- 
tact with divinity. When a girl pupil of the Ursuline 
nuns of Quintin marries and enters an interesting 
situation, the nuns send her a white silk ribbon 
painted in blue (virgin colours) with the words 
' Notre-Dame de deliverance prot^gez-vous.' Be- 
fore sending it off they touch with it the Reliquary 
of the parish church, which contains a fragment of 
the Virgin's Zone. The recipient hastens to fasten 
the ribbon around her waist, and does not cease to 
wear it till her baby is born. For the ribbon having 


been in contact with the divinity, though the contact 
has outwardly ceased, is still in some subtle connection 
with the goddess." (From an article in Folk-lore^ 
by Sidney Hartland (1893), vol. iv. p. 451.) 

The object of visiting Holy wells was, as has 
already been said, mainly for the cure of diseases. 
The usual ritual was to walk round the wells one or 
more times sun-ways, to drink the water, to wet a 
fragment of their clothing with it, and to attach this 
fragment to any tree or bush that happened to be 
near the wells. This fragment having been in contact 
with the water from the Holy well, was supposed to 
relieve the pain and restore the health of the person 
to whom it belonged, in the same way that the 
ribbon sent by the Ursuline nuns of Quintin, which 
had touched the Reliquary of the church, was thought 
to protect and restore the health of their pupil. The 
rags or fragments of clothing were " vehicles of the 
diseases," the pins were the offerings ; and after 
repeating a prayer in which they mentioned their ail- 
ments, the ceremony was ended by dropping in a pin. 
The wells were also visited for acquiring charms for 
protection against witches and fairies, and generally 
the securing of good luck. But when visited for 
these purposes the rags were dispensed with. We 
have said that the rags were " the vehicles of the 
diseases," but we believe they were also offerings in 
some places, and Miss Eleanor Alexander especially 
mentions this in hady Anne s Walk. She says : " Pins 
are in many ways preferable for obvious reasons ; but 
there is a certain pathos in the votive offerings of 
pitiful, dirty little uneven patches of discoloured 
stuffs, which may be stuck on the thorns of hedge 
or bush beside a Holy well." 


We must now draw attention to Plate XIII., Illustra- 
tion I, which represents a young woman in the act of 
dropping a pin into a well at Barenton in Brittany ; 
and we are told in Folk-lore of Scottish Lochs and Springs^ 
by J. M. Mackinlay, that should good fortune await 
those who drop pins into this well, the water will send 
up bubbles. If it remains quite still, no good luck can 
be expected. Many people may like to know the 
reputed powers of the different waters to be found 
in the Pin wells of Great Britain and Ireland ; we will 
therefore now describe some of the principal ones, and 
explain where they are to be found. 

Beginning with England, we will go first to Corn- 
wall, for it is said that pins were collected in handfuls 
near Holy wells in that county, and the custom is 
still kept up at many of them. The famous well 
dedicated to St. Madron was a very popular resort for 
those who sought relief from aches and pains, and 
St. Madron was always propitiated by an offering 
of pins or pebbles. He is honoured at a church 
near the Land's End, and close by is the well. 
Mr. J. M. Mackinlay tells us St. Madron's Well was 
visited on May morning by maidens wishing to dis- 
cover their matrimonial fate. They took two pieces 
of straw, about an inch in length, and placing them 
crossways, fastened them together with a pin. The 
cross was then thrown into the spring, and the rising 
bubbles carefully counted, for they corresponded with 
the years which would pass before the arrival of the 

One of the characters in Sir Walter Scott's Pirate 
expresses a wish that providence would send a wreck 
to gladden the hearts of the Shetlanders. At the 
other extremity of Britain, viz. in the Scilly Islands, 


I. Fontaine Ste. Barl)e (Wishing Well) at 
Barenton, Brittanv. 

2. St. Mary's Wishing Well, Orton, 

3. St. George's Wishing Well, in the 

lie du Casti i. t 


the same hope was at one time cherished. St. Warna, 
who was thought to preside over shipwrecks, was the 
patron saint of St. Agnes, one of the islands of the 
group. She had her Holy well, and there the natives 
formerly dropped in a crooked pin and called upon 
the saint to send them a rich wreck. At St. Nun's 
Well, close to Pelynt (Cornwall), a great number of 
pins were thrown in, not only by those who visited it 
out of curiosity, but also by those who wished to 
avail themselves of the virtue of its waters. It is 
thought to be efficacious for the cure of insanity. A 
well near St. Austell, at Menacuddle, received crooked 
pins as offerings, and it was believed that the pins 
which had been thrown in by former devotees would 
be seen to rise from their beds to greet the new- 
comer before it touched the bottom. The Holy well 
at Roche is frequented by the peasantry before sunrise 
on Holy Thursday and the two following Thursdays. 
Offerings of pins are made to the guardian saint ; 
sometimes they are bent before being thrown in. 

St. Keyne has bequeathed to a well in Cornwall, 
and also to one in South Wales, the power of bestow- 
ing the mastery on whichever of a young couple first 
drinks of it after their marriage. One aggrieved 
husband confesses his wife's superior wisdom in these 
lines : — 

" I hastened as soon as the wedding was done, 
And left my wife in the porch ; 
But i' faith, she had been wiser than me, 
For she took a bottle to church ! " 


Those who do not wish to travel so far as Cornwall in 
search of a Pin well can go to Chepstow in Monmouth- 
shire, where they will find one which, though it has 


not the interesting properties of St. Keyne's, is still in 
some repute for its healing powers. It is also a wish- 
ing well, and a lady of our acquaintance dropped a pin 
into it and wished her wish, only a year ago. Whether 
the wish has been fulfilled we know not, such things 
being usually kept a profound secret. 

Those who visit the Isle of Wight will find two 
wells inside Carisbrook Castle : one in present use inside 
the well-house, and the other up in the keep. The 
latter is now filled up with rubbish, and quite unfit for 
use. When the one in present use was cleaned out 
some years ago, a quantity of pins were found. We 
are told in Timbs' Abbeys, Castles^ and Ancient Halls 
that both these wells were at one time famed for 
having the property of echoing the fall of a pin in a 
most singular manner. A lady now residing at Caris- 
brook Castle informs us that this is still the case, and 
that the well now used is so beautifully constructed 
that the slightest echo can easily be heard. The fall 
of a drop of water is quite distinct, but visitors are 
now requested to refrain from throwing down any 
article which might render the water impure. When 
the pins were found in this well, a great many pence 
were also discovered, and one Charles I. shilling. 

There was once a Pin well near the railway station 
at Lewes in Sussex. It seems to have disappeared, but 
there is a street called Pin Street close to where the 
well used to be. This shews its memory is kept green 
by the inhabitants of Lewes, and that the pins, like 
"Truth," did lie at the bottom of that well. 

Travelling into the Eastern Counties we come to 
the celebrated wells at Walsingham in Norfolk. In 
the Priory of Our Lady of Walsingham are two wells 
and a bath, and from time immemorial they have all 


three been designated as " Wishing Wells," and were 
believed to cure headaches and indigestion. No doubt 
offerings were made, and pins dropped into them at 
some time or other, though the custom seems now to 
have been forgotten. 

Goinor further north, we find St. Helen's Well at 
Sephton in Lancashire was used as a Pin well until 
eleven or twelve years ago. The well was till then an 
open one, and it supplied the neighbourhood with 
water for drinking purposes. But there were so many 
well-founded complaints that tramps used it for their 
ablutions and passers-by washed their dogs in it, that 
it received a lid of stout planking, and was after a 
time boarded up, so that all access to the water is 
now prevented. It is shut off from the road by an 
iron railing, outside which a pump is fixed ; the flow 
of water is still abundant, but of course all romantic 
associations are destroyed. The pin-dropping con- 
tinued in full force until the well was covered up, 
and it was cleaned out twice yearly, when pins were 
removed. The supposition was that if the point of 
the pin settled on the bottom directed towards the 
church, the person who dropped it would be married 
within the year : how the notion arose it is difficult 
to say. The pin-dropping did not die out, but was 
simply made impossible. 

Near to Wooler in Northumberland, beautifully 
situated in a valley on the flanks of the Cheviots, there 
is a very famous Pin well at which, on May Day, 
the most charming customs have been long observed. 

It is variously called the Fairy, Wishing, Maiden, 
or Pin well, and on May Day morning a crowd of 
people anxious to conciliate its presiding spirit, used 
to form a procession, which, wending its way from 


the town into Glendale, where lies the well, there 
made a stop ; each person in the procession dropped 
a crooked pin into the water, at the same time wish- 
ing a wish, in the honest belief that the spirit of 
the well would, before the New Year came, fulfil this 
wish. The procession no longer takes place on May 
Day, but the superstitions connected with it have 
not entirely disappeared. Young people still repair 
to the well and drop in their pins, whispering the 
name of their lovers with the same ardent zeal. The 
number of crooked pins always to be seen at the 
bottom of the well prove that this custom is still 
kept up, and even old people pause before questioning 
the virtue of the ceremony. 

A local poet, in singing the praises of the well, 
also describes the uses to which it is now put, in 
the following verses : — 

" Deep down in a vale 'midst the hills of my birth 
There springs a clear fountain, the purest on earth, 
Through the wide world no nectar can ever excel 
The water that flows from our wishing Pin well. 

Flow on, then, for ever, thou clear crystal rill. 
Flow on, then, exhaustless, from out of the hill ; 
May beauty oft seek thee to muse on the spell 
That clings to the pins as they sink in the well. 

There, oft in my boyhood, in sunny midday, 
Fve laved my hot forehead, all throbbing with play ; 
What scenes of wild gladness my memory could tell, 
As I sported and ran round the rocks by the well. 
Flow on, then, &c. 

There, oft in the gloaming, with everything still 
Save the blackbird's soft melody poured o'er the hill 
I've dreamt it was Eden, that wild craggy dell, 
While I knelt with my Eve on the brink of the well. 
Flow on, then, &c. 


The wishers that bent them, far scattered may roam 
Away from that spring 'mid the hills of their home ; 
But what wishes remain, who their number can tell, 
That still hover, unseen, round their pins in the well ? 
Flow on, then, &c. 

Should fortune e'er lead me afar o'er the sea, 
And tear me from scenes I love dearly, and thee. 
Neither absence, nor distance, can ever dispel 
The charm of these scenes round that magical well. 
Flow on, then, &c." 

Imagination conjures up the scenes described in 
this pretty poem ; and as nothing seems so far 
to have occurred to prevent the dropping in of 
pins, those who happen to be in the neighbourhood, 
or do not mind a seven or eight hours' journey from 
London, with several changes, can find their way 
to this fairy well, wish their wishes, and drop in 
as many pins as they like — there seems to be no 
restriction ! 

Let us now make our way into Wales, that home 
of poetry and legend, where, the silent solitude of 
its mountains having made the Welshman both 
imaginative and impressionable, the legends and super- 
stitions of its Holy wells find in him the most ardent 
of believers. The pin-dropping was a well-known 
custom both in North and South Wales. The pin 
was usually a crooked one, and this may be ex- 
plained upon the supposed hypothesis in folk-lore, 
that crooked things are lucky things, as a crooked 
sixpence, &c. 

The most famous of Welsh wells is undoubtedly 
St. Winnefred's at Holywell in Flintshire. It is 
considered miraculous for the cure of many com- 
plaints, and the walls which surround the spring 
are hung with crutches and other offerings left by 


grateful pilgrims. No doubt the pin has also been 
offered here, for in several accounts of this well we 
read that " the water is so clear, a pin could be plainly 
seen lying at the bottom of it." Near to this cele- 
brated well is a small spring, once famed for the 
cure of weak eyes. The patient made an offering 
of a crooked pin to the nymph of the spring, and 
sent up at the same time a prayer by way of charm. 
But the charm is forgotten, and the power of the 
waters lost. 

The spring known as Holy Well, or Cefyn Bryn 
(a mountain in Glamorganshire), was much resorted 
to for the cure of sore eyes, and the pins dropped into 
it seem to have had the same power of welcoming 
new-comers as those in the well near Saint Austell 
in Cornwall. This one was supposed to be under 
the special patronage of the Virgin Mary, and a 
crooked pin was the offering of every visitor. It was 
believed that if a pin was dropped in with fervent 
faith, all the pins already there might be seen rising 
from the bottom to greet the new one ! Argue the 
impossibility of the thing, and you are told that it 
is true it never happens now, such earnestness of 
faith being, alas ! no more. 

The well still exists, but is no longer visited for 
the sake of benefits to be derived from drinking its 
water. The custom was much in vogue about 
sixty years ago, and the present incumbent "of a 
parish near by remembers, when a child, being often 
taken to drink the water and drop in a pin. It was 
quite a small, open pool, with a strong spring of water 
running through it. There was no fence round it of 
any kind. It is situated on the north side of Cefyn 
Bryn, under High Hill. Bits of rag were also seen 


tied to small twigs and stuck round the edge of 
this spring. 

There is a subterranean well under the ruins of 
Carreg Cennen Castle, in the parish of Llandilo in 
Carmarthenshire, into which pins are even now 
dropped to procure the speedy realisation of wishes. 
So we see that Wales does not differ from England 
in having the same traditions and superstitions attached 
to its wells and springs. 

Should we now feel inclined to make our way 
to Holyhead, and cross over to that Emerald Isle 
which Dean Hole has called " the beautiful land of 
the merry-hearted," we shall there find the same 
Holy wells and the same superstitious belief in the 
curative powers of their waters. The ritual is much 
the same at all these places of pilgrimage. The 
pilgrims go round the well either three or nine times 
on all fours. They must, as elsewhere, go from east 
to west, following the course of the sun and repeating 
paters and aves the whole time. After each round 
they make a small heap of stones, and the one who 
has the most heaps, having said the most prayers, will 
receive the greatest honour in Paradise. These wells 
are usually reached by going down some steps ; and 
the patient, kneeling beside it, bathes his forehead and 
hands in the water. The disease or pain from which 
he suffers will then gradually leave him. Whenever 
a white thorn or an ash tree grows near a well, that 
well is considered exceptionally sacred, and the patient 
having drunk of the water, before leaving the spot 
ties a votive offering to a branch of the tree. This 
may be a coloured handkerchief, or a red strip taken 
from a garment. Lady Wilde tells us in Ancient 
Legends of Ireland that *' these offerings are never 



removed, they remain for years fluttering in the wind 
and the rain." Numerous offerings of pins and 
pebbles are also made. 

At the foot of Knocklade, a mountain near Cape 
Castle, Co. Antrim, is a Holy well called " The 
Well of the Eye," the waters of which are good for 
sore eyes. If the water is used for bathing them on 
the spot or taken away in a bottle, some offering 
is left in return. At one time this used to be a 
pebble dropped upon a certain cairn, but later a pin 
was placed in a certain hole in a stone, where quite 
recently they have been seen by visitors. 

We presume that the "Well of the Eye" was 
dedicated to Saint Bridget, to whom all wells effi- 
cacious in the cure of sore eyes are dedicated. Miss 
Eleanor Alexander in Lady Annes Walk relates 
the tradition that " Bridget had early dedicated her- 
self to the service of God, and the life of a nun. But 
she was a very taking girl, with remarkably fine eyes, 
and several excellent parties, backed up, of course, by 
her relations, tried to induce her to change her mind. 
There was one gentleman in especial who would take 
no refusal. When she was walking with him one day 
he paid her an early Irish compliment on her beautiful 
eyes. She looked away to hide her blushes, and when 
she turned to him again, the amorous chieftain per- 
ceived with dismay that she had plucked out one of 
her eyes, and that it was hanging down her cheek. 
As she was a saint, she did not, of course, wink with 
the other when he precipitately withdrew all preten- 
sions to her hand. As soon as he had gone, she 
bathed her face in a well close by, and her eye was 
at once restored to its proper position, and was as 
good as ever." 


In the neighbourhood of Armagh there are several 
Pin wells, and all who seek a cure at them drop a 
pin into the water. Bushels of pins were also lately 
cleared out of a Holy well near Newry. 

Another well in Westmeath, at Crooked Wood, 
near MuUingar, is supposed to cure all diseases, and 
we know for a fact that pins are thrown in to this 

People are frequently seen kneeling beside the 
Holy wells in Donegal, and the trees and bushes 
near by are covered with bits of rag. One well near 
Letterkenny is very famous as a cure for every kind 
of disease ; sticks, crutches, and rags surround it, and 
though we are not able to gather any positive informa- 
tion with regard to pins, it is most likely they were 
used as offerings also, at some time or other. 

On the coast of County Galway, near to Cleggan, 
are two wells. One is dedicated to Saint Gregory, 
and is said to have sprung up on the spot where he 
dropped his own head ! The legend being that his 
head was cut off, and that he afterwards walked three 
hundred yards carrying it under his arm ! At the 
other well ten virgins are supposed to have been 
drowned. Pins are dropped into both wells even now, 
and if, on visiting them, the sun shines on those 
already there, it is thought a good omen for the 
visitor. From Cleggan there is a fine view of a 
beautiful range of mountains, called the "Twelve 
Pins," on account of their twelve pointed heads. The 
highest is 2895 feet, and one is named the "Diamond 
Pin." Dean Hole gives an amusing account of his 
visit to this neighbourhood, and of his first view of 
the " Twelve Pins." He was driving in some public 
conveyance, and describes a " party from Sheffield " 


seated on the box, who had no sooner ascertained from 
the driver that the grand highlands before him were 
known as the " Twelve Pins," than he desired the 
company to inform him " what degree of relationship 
existed between them and the Needles off the Isle of 
Wight." He then asked the company a riddle, " Why 
have them pins no pints ? Because they're principally 
quartz ! " The Dean also describes his visit to a Holy 
well in County Cork, situated upon an island called 
Gougane-barra on Lake AUua, of which the Irish 
poet Callanan sings : — 

"There is a green island on lone Gougane-barra 
Where AUua of songs rushes forth as an arrow." 

The Dean says he reached the " green island " by an 
overland route, a method of access which he does not 
remember to have noticed out of Ireland ! 

Many wonderful cures have been performed at 
the Holy well on this island, and it is still visited by 
pilgrims. Some steps lead down to the well, and 
there is a little ledge round the inside of it, where 
pins in all stages of rust and decay can be seen, besides 
bright new ones. A party of tourists was there 
quite recently and saw the pins in great numbers. 

And now, before saying farewell to the Emerald Isle, 
we must relate an interesting little story about a pin, 
told us by a gentleman who visited County Galway 
in the summer of 1901. He was staying in a small 
village, and had made great friends with an old miller 
belonging to the place. This old man took him for 
walks in the neighbourhood every day. One morning 
they started as usual, and were passing along a very 
picturesque pathway, when suddenly the old man 
stopped and turned back, saying, " We must not go 


that way to-day." On being asked an explanation 
for so suddenly changing his mind, he pointed to a 
crooked pin lying on the path and said, " Nothing 
will ever make me take any path that has that lying 
in my way ! " So they turned and went back to the 
mill. This seems a singular contradiction of the 
belief that, generally speaking, crooked pins are lucky 
ones. But perhaps, in Ireland anyway, the idea is 
that bad luck is. thrown away with a crooked pin, 
and remains with the pin wherever it lies (as is thought 
to be the case with the rags at the wells), so that in 
walking over or picking up a crooked pin, the bad 
luck thrown away with it may be picked up or passed 
on also. But, as an old Scotchman once said, " We 
maun keep the customs of our fathers," and we have 
heard that " men do more things from custom than 
from reason " ; so, as custom seems stronger than 
reason, and is also said to be " a second nature," 
there seems no use in arguing the matter further. 
We will therefore continue our imaginary journey, 
and leaving Ireland, with its many-coloured rags 
fluttering in the breeze round her wells, and the sun 
shining on the pins within them, take a peep at the 
Isle of Man on our way to Scotland. 

This island was early conquered by the Northmen 
or warriors of Scandinavia, and the Manxman in- 
herits from them traditions and legends of sea-kings 
and pirates. Sir Walter Scott says of this island in 
Peveril of the Peak : " Superstition, too, had her tales 
of fairies, ghosts, and spectres — her legends of saints 
and demons, of fairies and familiar spirits, which in 
no corner of the British Empire are told or received 
with more absolute credulity than in the Isle of Man." 
It is therefore with fresh zeal and ever-increasing 


interest that we land on this island and find our way 
to its most celebrated well, which is dedicated to 
Saint Maughold, one of the earliest Manx saints. 

Saint Maughold's Well had its full virtue only 
when visited on the first Sunday of harvest. There 
is evidence that within the last ten years, if not at the 
present time, the water of this well was considered 
to be also especially efficacious for the cure of sore 
eyes. Professor Rhys was told that when it was applied 
for this purpose, it was customary, after using it on 
the spot or filling a bottle with it to take home, 
to drop a pin, a bead, or a button into the well. 

From information gathered through the kindness 
of friends in the island, it seems that the pin-dropping 
is done now chiefly by visitors, who, having heard of 
the old custom, look upon it as a wishing-well and 
drop in their pins for luck. 

In Baldwin, a valley near Douglas, there is a well 
called " Chibber Uner." Chibber means " well," and 
Uner is a corruption of Chibber Runer, Runius 
being the patron saint of Marown, in which parish is 
the well. Pins are still dropped into it. At another 
well in Man, called Chibber Undin (Foundation 
Well), in the parish of Malew, the patient used to walk 
twice round the well with water from it in his mouth ; 
he finally emptied that water into a piece of stuff torn 
from any garment he might be wearing ; this fragment 
was tied to the branch of a hawthorn tree which grew 
there, and left to rot away ; the disease supposed to 
cling to it then died also. It was thought that any 
one rash enough to take away a rag thus deposited, 
would be sure to contract the disease communicated to 
it by the person who left it there. Walking round 
the well was the ritual observed in connection with 


all the sacred wells in Man, but Chibber Undin is the 
only one where it is necessary to hold the water in the 
mouth whilst doing so. 

There are many places of great historical interest 
in the Isle of Man besides the wells, and fain would 
we linger amongst them ; but this being impossible, 
let us pass on and imagine ourselves to have arrived 
in Scotland, quite fit and ready, in spite of the journey, 
to continue our search. 

It is believed that all the Holy wells in Scotland 
were Pin wells, for a pin was a very common form of offer- 
ing made by the pilgrims, not because it was thought 
particularly acceptable, but simply as a thing within 
reach of all. The same superstition of walking round the 
wells a certain number of times sun-ways was also prac- 
tised in Scotland. These solar turns are mentioned 
in the history of many nations ; what actual virtue is 
attributed to them it is not easy to say, but no one turns 
against the sun except with the object of invoking a 
curse or bringing bad luck to some one or something. 

Saint Anthony's Well, near Edinburgh, is probably 
the best known of Scottish wishing-wells. It lies under- 
neath the overhanging crags of Arthur's Seat, close to 
Saint Anthony's Chapel. The stream which fills the 
basin of the well inspired the writer of that plaintive 
old song, " Oh waly, waly, up yon Bank." Which song 
expresses the grief of Lady Barbara Erskine, on the 
desertion of her husband, James, Marquis of Douglas, 
in the time of Charles II. The last verse, so quaint and 
sad, gives us a pin and says : — 

" But had I wist, before I kissed, 
That love had been sae ill to win, 
I'd locked my heart in a case of gold 
And pinned it wi' a siller pin." 


Another well on the borders of Dunottar, near 
Stonehaven, was known formerly as Saint Ninian's 
Well ; now, merely as the Pin Well. It unfortunately 
went dry some years ago and has not been repaired. 
Up to that time it was visited on May Day morning 
by hosts of young folks who wished their wishes and 
dropped in their pins. It was not supposed to have 
any virtue except on May Day. The proprietor 
intends, we are told, to have the well repaired, when 
no doubt the custom will be revived. 

Saint John's Well, at Balmano, Kincardineshire, 
still exists, though it is now also out of repair and is 
no longer public ; but pins used to be dropped into it 
by the sick and wounded, who were restored by its 

Near the top of a hill that divides the Glen of 
CorgarfF from Glengairn, Aberdeenshire, lies Tobar- 
na-glas-a-coile, i.e. " the well in the grey wood," named 
after a spiteful spirit that lived close by and was called 
Duine-glase-beg, i.e. " the little grey man." He was 
the guardian of the well, and most assiduous in watch- 
ing over it. Each person on drinking the water had 
to drop in a pin ; if this was not done, and the same 
person returned to take water a second time, the little 
grey man, in revenge, hunted and persecuted him 
until at last he died of thirst. An equally sad fate 
awaits careless visitors to a well at the top of Ben 
Newe in Strathdon, Aberdeenshire. Should they 
neglect to put a pin or some small thing into the 
water before drinking it, the tradition is they will die 
before reaching the bottom of the hill again. Under 
these tragic circumstances, we are not surprised to 
hear that the bottom of each of these wells was often 
found to be strewn with pins. A visitor to Ben Newe 


in 1890 saw a pill-box, a flower, and several other 
things besides pins in the well. A great many pins 
were also seen there in June 1907 by a party of young 
people, who themselves added to the number. 

At Toubir-nim-buodh, the consecrated well near 
St. Kilda, visitors used to lay their offerings of pins, 
needles, and shells upon an altar that stood close 
by. It was useless to touch the sacred water until 
invocations had been made to the spirit of the well, 
and as these spirits were propitious only if remem- 
bered, and generally vindictive if neglected, no one 
came empty-handed. 

Offerings of pins were made at the well at Mether- 
clunie, near Dufftown, on May morning, and also 
at the Wallack Well, and Corsmall Well at Glass 
in Banffshire. 

Saint Mary's Well at Orton, Morayshire (Plate 
XIII., Illustration 2), till a few years ago continued to 
attract crowds of Roman Catholics on certain days, 
especially on the first Sunday in May. A number 
of pilgrims came to pray at the well and a great many 
pins were put into the water as offerings. The country 
folks in the district still visit the well on the first 
Sunday in May, but only in search of good luck. 
Pins and buttons are also still dropped in by those 
who worship at this church and believe that the water 
has healing properties, and will cure sickness. They 
also take the water away in bottles. 

The Island of Guernsey has her Holy wells, where 
offerings were made as at all other wells. They still 
exist in many parts of the island, and are resorted 
to for various purposes, but principally for the cure 
of erysipelas, rheumatism, and glandular swellings, 
and inflammation or weakness of the eyes. These 


maladies are all called by the country people " mal 
de la Fontaine," and Guernsey Folk-lore tells us 
of various ceremonies which have to be observed, 
and without which it is useless to visit the wells. 
One point is curious, and differs from the ritual 
at most other wells — the water must be dropped 
on to the affected part with the fingers, and not put 
on with a rag, and this must be done before the 
patient has broken his fast for nine consecutive 
mornings. The well most in repute is Saint George's 
in the parish of Ste. Marie du Castel, of which we 
give an illustration (Plate XIII., Illustration 3). 

There is only one Holy well in Jersey, the 
Fontaine S. Marc, the water of which was supposed to 
have curative powers, particularly for the eyes. 

We might, of course, give particulars concerning 
many more Pin wells ; for there are wells for heart- 
ache, wells for headache, wells for toothache, wells 
for lunatics, wells to cure lameness, and, we believe, 
one well that is bottomless ! At all of them offerings 
of pins were made, and at many we have shewn 
the custom is still kept up. 

It has already been said that the pins represented 
the more precious offerings of very ancient times, but 
for hundreds of years they have been thrown in or 
left in some receptacle beside the wells ; we can there- 
fore speak with impunity of their use in this way as 
an old tradition or custom. Some of the wells had 
real medicinal powers, and their waters really did 
good without any miracle being performed, and the 
offerings were left in gratitude for cures already made. 
These offerings took different forms. A man cured 
of lameness would leave his crutch near the well ; 
another, whose sores were healed, would leave the 


rags with which they had been bound. There must 
also have been occasions when people were cured of 
some disease or sickness that did not require crutches 
or bandages, and when the ever-useful pin would be 
thought of and thrown in. The other wells (the Pin 
wells) were believed to have miraculous powers of 
healing, and the offerings were not thank-offerings, 
but to propitiate and induce the presiding saint to 
send the pilgrims whatever might be at the moment 
their heart's desire. These sacred wells were held in 
reverence all over the British Isles and in almost every 
part of the world. Miss Gordon Gumming tells us 
of efforts vainly made to put a stop to this form of 
idolatry in Scotland. " Vainly did the Council of 
Aries, in a.d. 452, decree that 'if in any diocese any 
infidel either lighted torches or worshipped trees or 
fountains ... he should be found guilty of sacri- 
lege.' Vainly did other councils again and again 
repeat the same warning. . . . Vainly, too, did King 
Edgar and Canute the Great forbid the worship of the 
sun, moon, fountains, &c. &c. ; the people clung with 
tenacity to all their varied forms of paganism except 
the worship of trees, which seems gradually to have 
been forgotten, or only remembered in Germany, 
whence we have borrowed the Yule custom of illumi- 
nating a fir-tree with offerings of candles. . . . Among 
the various efforts made to check well-worship in 
Scotland in the seventeenth century was an order from 
the Privy Council appointing commissioners ' to wait 
at Christ's Well in Menteith on the ist of May, and 
to seize all who might assemble at the spring, and 
imprison them in Doune Castle.' " 

In spite of all this we find the same customs and 
superstitions still lingering, even in a land of such 


sturdy common-sense as Scotland. But " the way 
of the world is to make laws and follow customs," 
and we ourselves confess that " there's something in 
that ancient superstition, which, erring as it is, our 
fancy loves." So the ball is kept rolling, and will 
roll on until, perhaps, in years to come, when the old 
order of things is reversed and new laws are made, 
some future generations may tell the world a different 
tale. There we must leave it ; for, having proved 
the use of pins at sacred wells, time and space forbid 
further wanderings amongst them, and we must turn 
to other things. 



" His first quoit fell within three inches of the pin." 

— Crockett, Lads' Love, chap, xviii. p. 190. 

A GREAT number of curious practices and customs 
connected with pins had nothing whatever to do with 
either witchcraft or superstition, good luck or bad 
luck, or to the curing of disease ; but from very 
early times pins have been put to many uses besides 
their original one of fastening two things together. 
Amongst other things there were games played with 

English people as a rule are lovers of games, but 
we are not here referring to our great national out- 
door games, nor to chess, whist, or bridge, but to 
those nice little games which while away half-hours 
here and there in our lives, on rainy days and long 
winter evenings, when we are tired of reading and 
some other recreation becomes necessary, but it is not 
worth while to start anything more serious. There are 
already many such games, but as they are not usually 
of a kind that claim interest for long together, fresh 
ones are always welcome ; and some of those played 
with pins, though not very exciting in themselves, 
are yet so quaint and curious that we venture to think 
even a Christmas party of elderly people trying to be 
merry might become almost enjoyable with them to 
turn to from the more laborious forms of keeping 


that festival. Some of the pin games were played at 
Pudsey in Yorkshire, and we have ascertained, through 
the kindness of the vicar of that parish, that they 
really did exist there, but have now for some years 
died out. 

On the morning of New Year's Day troops of 
children were seen running to and fro in the streets of 
Pudsey from shop to shop, where they greeted the 
owners in this curious way: "Please pray nah New 
Year's gift." At the drapers' shops, they were each 
given a row of pins, with which they afterwards played 
at several games. One popular game was called " Cover 
Pin." A child deposited secretly one or any number 
of pins in the palm of his hand, all the heads being 
one way ; and then closing the hand, the pins were 
hidden from sight. A companion covered in the same 
way an equal number of pins, and then said " heads " 
or " heads to points." If the coverer said " heads,'* 
and on the hands being opened the heads were all one 
way, then the coverer won the lot ; but if the heads 
were " heads to points" — that is, heads opposite to the 
heads in the hand — then the coverer lost, unless he had 
said " heads to points." 

Another game was " Drop Key," and any number 
could play at this game. Each player dropped a pin or 
two in turn through a key, which was fixed horizon- 
tally five or six inches above the table. Each player 
won only so many pins as his pin or pins covered at 
each drop, and so the game went on for any length of 

Another game was called " Flush," or " Save-all." 
A small octagonal wooden roller four or five inches 
long was required. Its eight sides were marked — 
two sides each with ones, twos, and crosses called 


3. The Fly Cage. 

I. The Dancing Gooseberry. 

4. Chain made with a 
Cotton Reel and Pins. 

2. The Pin Organ. 


" flush," and V's called " save-all," Any number 
could also play at this game. The players deposited 
two pins each ; they then commenced to throw the 
roller in turn, and if, when the first player had 
thrown, it stood at one, the player took up one pin ; 
ii' at two, two pins were deposited to the stock by the 
unlucky player ; if at five, all were saved, there being 
neither losses nor gains ; but if it stood at ten, " flush," 
then the thrower won the lot. It seems a pity 
these games should have died out, as there are now 
such an endless variety of pins at all prices with which 
to play for prizes. We can, however, give directions 
for playing several more games with pins, and also for 
making toys with pins. The " Dancing Gooseberry " 
was at one time a very popular game, and the 
" Lottery Book " was played about seventy years ago 
in many places. 

The "Dancing Gooseberry" (Plate XIV., Illustra- 
tion I ) was made by sticking a pin through a small goose- 
berry. It was then placed in the stem of a broken 
tobacco pipe ; the pipe was placed in the mouth, and by 
blowing through it the gooseberry was made to dance 
in the air. This required great skill, as the object was 
to catch the gooseberry in the stem of the pipe. 

"The Pin Organ" (Plate XIV., Illustration 2) is a 
very interesting toy, and was made in this way. A 
small piece of board was obtained, upon which a circle 
was marked out ; into this circle pins were driven, and 
by driving them further into the wood the pins could 
be tuned. An upright piece of wood was then put 
into a support in the centre of the circle of pins. 
Another piece of wood with a quill at the end was 
then fastened into the side of the upright piece, and 
at the top of this upright piece was fixed a paper fan. 


To use the instrument some one had to blow the 
fan ; this caused the upright piece of wood (which 
was only held by its support, and not fastened) to 
rotate, and the quill, which touched the pins in going 
round, produced a series of musical notes or tunes. 

" The Fly Cage" (Plate XIV., Illustration 3) was 
another interesting toy made from a bottle cork and 
pins. To make the cage a hole was cut in the centre 
of the cork. Pins were then fixed across the opening 
of the hole so as to form bars. To put the fly in, a 
pin was lifted out. Tormenting flies is not a thing to 
be encouraged, but this is a very neat toy, and we 
think might be put to some better use. 

" Cowslip Tea." The tea was made by pouring 
boiling water over cowslips ; sugar-candy was used 
to sweeten it. It was then placed in a bottle and 
carried about by children. A pin was paid for a 

" The Lottery Book." Pictures were placed be- 
tween some (but not all) of the leaves of this book. 
The pictures were scraps cut from old newspapers, 
&c. The game was played thus : a child stuck a 
pin between the leaves, and if a picture was found 
there, he claimed it. If not, the owner of the lottery 
book claimed the pin. 

Sixty or seventy years ago boys made musical pipes 
in this way : they cut reeds into lengths, and a slit was 
cut in the centre, which when blown into would pro- 
duce a sound like the note of an organ ; these were 
called pipes, and they were exchanged by the boys for 
pins, with the expression, " Who will give a pin for a 
pipe.?" Another game, of about the same date, was 
called a " Children's Love Charm." The name of the 
lover was inscribed on a laurel leaf with a pin. If the 


leaf turned brown, his or her love was reciprocated, 
but if it turned black, was rejected. 

" Tit-Tat " is an old game, and a very mischievous 
one. It is still played by boys on dark nights. A 
button, attached to a length of cotton, is suspended 
from the window-frame by means of a pin. By gently 
pulling the cotton, the button swings pendulum 
fashion, and causes a tapping noise on the window- 
pane. This game when played after dark is a most 
alarming experience for those on whom the trick is 
perpetrated, especially if they are old or nervous 
people. It is of course splendid fun for the players, 
and we can almost find it in our hearts to hope that 
this game may always remain fashionable. 

" The Horse-Chestnut Table." This is called in 
some places a " conkerf," and is made of a horse- 
chestnut and pins, with wool wound round them in 
cobweb fashion. 

Plate XIV., Illustration 4, shews how pins can be 
used with a cotton reel to make a chain. Put four 
pins round one of the holes of the reel at equal 
distances ; take a ball of wool and pass the end of it 
through this hole and pull it out at the other ; then 
twist it round each pin in turn once, and repeat the 
twists, so that there are two twists of wool round 
each pin. Lift the under twist over the upper twist, 
and over the pin ; this must be done at each pin and 
with a pin. Then twist the wool once more round 
each pin, and repeat the process of lifting the under 
twist over the upper twist and over each pin at every 
round. The chain will gradually appear out of the 
opposite hole of the reel, and can of course be made 
into any length. It is a good strong chain, and we 
should like to see this useful and pretty occupation 



become more general. Many a little girl whose cry of 
" What shall I do, mamma ? " is so difficult to answer, 
might be made quite happy and very proud if shewn 
how to make a real chain ; and what a charming 
present it would make, when finished, for grandmamma 
or aunt at Christmas. 

"The Pin Dart" is composed of a pin fixed in 
a small cone of paper with sealing-wax ; it is used 
with a paper cylinder, and naughty boys used to 
tear a page from their lesson books for the purpose. 
The dart is blown from the cylinder, and the point 
of the pin being outwards, considerable damage 
might be done if it flew into any one's face. 
We are not quite sure if it is right to perpetuate 
such a dangerous toy. But if blown at a small 
target made for the purpose it would then be quite a 
harmless game. 

Many very pretty games were played in some parts 
of New England in the seventeenth and eighteenth 
centuries, and Mrs. Alice Morse Earle tells us much 
about them in Child-Life in Colonial Days. We 
should like to introduce to the children of to-day 
some of the charming amusements described in a 
chapter of this book headed " Old-time Children." 
They had such pretty ideas about flowers, and, as 
many of these children were not allowed to play with 
real dolls on the solemn New England Sabbath, they 
made themselves dolls out of flowers. Black-headed 
dolls were made from poppies, their petals when 
turned back forming bright scarlet petticoats. The 
different coloured balsams, with their " frills and 
flounces," and the holyhocks, could all be tied into 
tiny dolls, most fairy-like to behold ; blue-bells are 
shaped very much like a child's " straight-waisted, full- 


skirted frock," and if pins are stuck upright in a piece 
of wood, the little frocks can be hung over them, and 
"the green calyx forms a tiny hat." Amongst other 
favourite amusements of these "old-time children" 
were " Pin-a-sights," or " Pin-shows " as they were 
called in England. They formed part " of the shop 
furnishings of pin-stores," a kind of play-shop for which 
many curious articles were manufactured with pins. 
A " pin-a-sight " was made in this way. Flowers were 
stuck upon a piece of glass in different patterns. 
Over the flowers was pasted a piece of paper, in which 
was a movable flap, and on payment of a pin this 
flap was lifted, and the hidden treasures revealed. 
" Sightseers " were enticed by the children, who sang 
out, " A pin, a pin, a poppy show ! " — this being their 
rendering of a " puppet show." Tiny wreaths were 
made of larkspur for these " pin-a-sights," and minia- 
ture trees were carefully manufactured of "grass-spires." 
Great ingenuity could be displayed in the making of 
" pin-a-sights." Tiny baskets were cut in two, pasted 
on glass, and " filled with wonderful artificial flowers 
manufactured out of the petals of real blossoms," A 
gorgeous blue rose could be made from the petals of 
a flower-de-luce, &c. &c. Mrs. Earle adds a touch 
of pathos to these delightful reminiscences when she 
relates being present at the opening of an old chest 
which had not been searched for many years. " In a 
tiny box within it was found some cherished belong- 
ings of a little child who had died in the year 1794. 
Among them was a tea-set made of rose-hips, with 
handles of bent pins." No wonder such dainty toys 
were amongst a little child's most " cherished belong- 
ings," and doubtless many bitter tears were dropped 
into the tiny cups by those loving friends who so 


carefully packed them away more than a hundred 
years ago. 

" Pin-shows " were made in England a century ago, 
and for many years after. They came in each year 
as regularly as marbles, kites, and other games when 
"April showers" had brought forth "May flowers." 
They were made in much the same way as those 
described by Mrs. Earle. A piece of glass was found, 
and laid on a piece of paper of any colour. On the 
glass were laid, face downwards, such small flowers 
as the forget-me-not, daisy or buttercup, violet or 
pimpernel, with here and there a small leaf. Round 
the glass and close to the edge were placed the petals 
of larger flowers, such as those of the wild-rose or 
foxglove, the object being to cover the whole of the 
glass. The sides of the sheet of paper were then care- 
fully folded over the flowers ; but in order to make 
the whole stronger, it was better before folding the 
sheet of paper to lay on the flowers a piece of stout 
paper or cardboard, and on this to fold the paper, 
which was either pinned or sewn to make the back 
tight and firm. The next thing was to cut the paper 
which covered the front of the glass, on three sides, 
so that the uncut side formed a flap. The " pin-show " 
was now ready for those who would give a pin to see 
it. " Please will you give me a pin to look at my 
pin-show ? " was the children's cry, and if a pin was 
forthcoming, the floral show was exhibited. In this 
way girls gathered a great quantity of pins, which they 
usually handed to their mothers, for mothers in those 
days instilled into the minds of their children the 
notion of being what was called " pin-thrifty," and to 
pick up a pin whenever and wherever one was seen 


They were told : — 

and also — 


" To steal a pin 
It is a sin " ; 

" Who see a pin 
An' let it lie, 
May want a pin 
Before they die " ; 

" May come to want 
Before they die." 

This was useful teaching in the way of thrifti- 
ness, and in all probability was the foundation of the 
children's pastime of making " pin-shows." 

We must now turn our attention to games of 
quite a different kind. Some of them are very 
ancient, and some long since forgotten, but that well- 
known old book, Sports and Pastimes of the People of 
Englana^ by Joseph Strutt, published 1831, tells us 
they were mostly played with wooden pins ; and that 
bowls is one of our oldest games, probably an in- 
vention of the Middle Ages. It has been traced back 
to the thirteenth century, but the time of its first 
introduction cannot be ascertained. Strutt also gives 
us some valuable particulars concerning kales, closh, 
loggats, ninepins, skittles, half- bowl, &c., and we 
will now describe these games in his own words. 

" Kayles," "written also cayles and keiles, derived 
from the French word quilleSy was played with pins, 
and no doubt gave origin to the modern game of 
ninepins ; though, primitively, the kayle-pins do not 
appear to have been confined to any certain number . . . 
the pastime kayles is played with six pins. . . . The 
arrangement of the kayle-pins differs greatly from that 
of the ninepins, the latter being placed upon a square 


frame in three rows, and the former in one row 

The game " Cloish," or " Closh," " mentioned 
frequently in the ancient statutes, seems to have been 
the same as kayles, or at least exceedingly like it ; 
cloish was played with pins, which were thrown at 
with a bowl instead of a truncheon, and probably 
differed only in name from the ninepins of the 
present time." 

" Loggats." " This, I make no doubt, was a pastime 
analogous to kayles and cloish, but played chiefly 
by boys and rustics, who substituted bones for pins. 
' Loggatts,' says Sir Thomas Hanmer, one of the 
editors of Shakespeare, ' is the ancient name of a play 
or game, which is one of the unlawful games enumer- 
ated in the thirty-third statute of Henry VIII. : it 
is the same which is now called kittle-pins, in which 
the boys often make use of bones instead of wooden 
pins, throwing at them with another bone, instead 
of bowling.' Hence Shakespeare, in Hamlet, speaks 
thus : ' Did these bones cost no more the breeding, 
but to play at loggatts with them .'' ' And this 
game is evidently referred to in an old play entitled 
7he Longer thou Livest, the more Fool thou Art, 
published in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, where a 
dunce boasts of his skill 'at skales and the playing 
with a sheepes-joynte.' In skales, or kayles, the 
' sheepes-joynte' was probably the bone used instead of 
a bowl." 

" Ninepins-Skittles." " The kayle-pins were after- 
wards called kettle or kittle-pins, and hence, by an 
easy corruption, skittle-pins, an appellation well 
known in the present day. The game of skittles 
as it is now played differs materially from that 


of ninepins, though the same number of pins are 
required in both. In performing the latter, the 
player stands at a distance settled by mutual consent 
of the parties concerned, and casts the bowl at the 
pins ; the contest is, to beat them all down in the 
fewest throws. In playing at skittles there is a double 
exertion : one of bowling and the other by tipping ; 
the first is performed at a given distance, and the 
second standing close to the frame upon which the 
pins are placed, and throwing the ball through in 
the midst of them ; in both cases, the number of 
pins beaten down before the return of the bowl, for 
it usually passes beyond the frame, are called fair, 
and reckoned to the account of the player ; but those 
that fall by the coming back of the bowl are said 
to be foul, and of course not counted. One chalk 
or score is reckoned for every fair pin, and the game 
of skittles consists in obtaining thirty-one chalks 
precisely, less loses, or at least gives the antagonist 
a chance of winning the game ; and more requires 
the player to go again for nine, which must also 
be brought exactly, to secure himself." 

The preceding quotation from Hanmer intimates 
that the kittle-pins were sometimes made with bones, 
and this assertion is strengthened by the language 
of a dramatic writer, the author of The Merry Milk- 
maid of Islington^ in 1680, who makes one of his 
characters speak thus to another : " I'll cleave you 
from the skull to the twist, and make nine skittles 
of the bones." 

" Four Corners" " is so called from four large pins 
which are placed singly at each angle of a square frame. 
The players stand at a distance, which may be varied 
by joint consent, and throw at the pins a large, heavy 


bowl, which sometimes weighs six or eight pounds. 
The excellency of the game consists in beating them 
down by the fewest casts of the bowl." 

"Half-bowl." "This is one of the games pro- 
hibited by Edward IV., and received its denomination 
from being played with one half of a sphere of wood. 
Half- bowl is practised to this day (1831) in Hertford- 
shire, where it is commonly called rolly-poUy, and it 
is best performed upon the floor of a room, especially 
if it be smooth and level. There are fifteen small 
pins of a conical form required for this pastime, twelve 
of which are placed at equal distances upon the 
circumference of a circle of about two feet and a half 
diameter ; one of the three remaining pins occupies 
the centre, and the other two are placed without 
the circle at the back part of it, and parallel with 
the bowling place, but so as to be in line with the 
middle pin ; forming a row of five pins, including 
two of those upon the circumference. In playing this 
game, the bowl when delivered must pass above 
the pins and round the end-pin, without the circle, 
before it beats any of them down ; if not, the cast 
is forfeited ; and, owing to the great bias of the bowl, 
this task is not very readily performed by such as 
have not made themselves perfect by practice. The 
middle pin is distinguished by four balls at the 
top, and, if thrown down, is reckoned for four 
towards the game ; the intermediate pin upon the 
circle, in the row of five, has three balls, and is 
reckoned for three ; the first pin without the circle 
has two balls, and is counted for two ; and the value 
of all the others singly is but one. Thirty-one chalks 
complete the game, which he who first obtains is 
the conqueror. If this number be exceeded it is 


a matter of no consequence : the game is equally 

" Push-pin," Strutt says, " is a very silly sport, 
being nothing more than simply pushing one pin 
across another." It has, however, the distinction of 
having been mentioned by Shakespeare in Loves 
Labour s Lost^ Act iv. sc. i , " And Nestor played at push- 
pin with the boys." Strutt also gives the following 
amusing description under the heading of " Burlesque 
Music " : " The minstrels and joculators seem to have 
had the knack of converting every kind of amusement 
into a vehicle of merriment, and, amongst others, that 
of music has not escaped them. Here we see one of 
these drolls holding a pair of bellows by way of a 
fiddle, and using the tongs as a substitute for the 
bow. Another man played upon the frying-pan and 
gridiron. I have heard an accompaniment to the 
violin exceedingly well performed with a rolling-pin 
and a salt-box by a celebrated publican called Price, 
who kept ' The Green Man,' formerly well known 
by the appellation of 'The Farthing Pye House,' at 
the top of Portland Row, Saint Marylebone." 

" The Farthing Pye House " is a curious name for 
a public-house, but the names of public-houses are 
not usually given without a reason, and farthing pies 
were probably at one time sold at " The Farthing Pye 
House." We also often find public-houses named after 
the lord of the manor, as for instance " The Earl of 
March," in compliment to the Duke of Richmond. 
The aim of the sign is, of course, to draw customers, 
and so a national hero or a great battle are often made 
use of, such as "The Duke of Wellington," "The 
Waterloo," or " The Alma." Loyalty also shews itself 
at " The Crown," " The Prince of Wales," and so on. 


Other signs show the speciality of their house, as " The 
Bowling Green," " The Skittles," &c. &c., and there 
are some that refer more directly to the pins with 
which these games are played ; thus, we find in the 
outskirts of Wokingham, Berks, a small wayside inn 
with this sign, " The Pin and Bowl." There is no 
pictorial illustration of it on the signboard, and the 
question has been asked, " Why is ' pin ' here in the 
singular?" It is, however, only in one sense that the 
word " pins " in this connection is ever used. Skittles 
are certainly played with " ninepins," and " bowls " 
also, but only in speaking of the individuals are 
" pins " so called. To " set up the pins " is the duty 
of the attendant, but collectively they are " the pack." 
A representation, often highly coloured, of a "pin" 
falling from the blow of the "bowl," is still to be 
seen in Bristol and elsewhere on many public-house 
signs, usually to show that there is a " skittle-alley " 

The order was reversed in the " Bowl and Pin,'* 
a tavern in Upper Thames Street, in 1781, where 
the " Cat and Fiddle Society " held their monthly 
meetings. A ticket of admission to one of these 
meetings at the "Pin and Bowl," dated 1781, is 
preserved in the print-room at the British Museum, 
in Banks' collection of admission tickets. 

There was also a "Skittle and Two Pins" in 
Bedfordbury ; and it is especially interesting to find 
that the only surviving instance in London of the 
"Corner Pin" still exists at No. 2 Goswell Road, 
formerly Goswell Street, the ancient highway between 
London and merry Islington. To hit the " corner 
pin " is the aim of every skittle player, as it is the 
key of the situation. In a crowded carriage of the 


Exeter market-train an old-fashioned farmer was once 
heard to call out, " Here ! Maister Cornder Pin, do 
'ee plaise to let in a leetle fresh air, us be most a' 
steefled." The man nearest the window held the key 
of that situation, and therefore represented the " corner 



"As for the Doctor, he was quite on the merry pin." 

— Anne Manning, Old Chelsea Bun-House. 

One thing leads to another, and the references to 
taverns and inns made in our last chapter lead us 
to consider some of the terms used in connection with 
the beer, wine, and spirits obtained at these public 
houses, such as a "pin of beer" and a " merry pin." 
Those ancient drinking vessels called " pin-cups " or 
tankards, which are of great antiquity and great 
historical interest, will also be considered in this 

But what is a " pin of beer " ? It is the smallest 
barrel of beer, a four and a half gallon cask. In 
Goldsmith's Almanack it appears at the head of the 
beer measures, Whitaker takes no notice of it, and it 
is difficult to understand why it is called a " pin," It 
may be used in the diminutive sense, as it is the 
smallest of casks ; and it has also been suggested that 
it somewhat resembles a skittle-pin in shape, and that 
it is little larger than the huge wooden " pin-tankards " 
it was the custom to use at old German drinking 
parties, when each guest drank down to a pin, 
generally of silver, in the side of the tankard. " Ad 
Pinnas bibere," i.e. " to drink to the pin," was an 

old Danish custom of drinking, which obliged every 



one to drink exactly to a pin fixed on the side of a 

wooden cup, or pay a forfeit. 

The custom of drinking to a pin was common 

amongst our Saxon ancestors, and during the reign of 

King Edgar a law was enacted at the suggestion of 

Saint Dunstan which forced the introduction of pins 

into drinking-cups for the purpose of repressing 

drunkenness. The tankards used had eight pins set 

at equal distances from the top to the bottom inside. 

They held two quarts, therefore there was half a pint 

between each pin. By the rules of good fellowship 

each person was to stop drinking only at a pin, and 

if he drank beyond it, was to drink to the next one. 

By this means those unaccustomed to measure their 

draughts were obliged sometimes to drink the whole 

tankard. Hence, when a person was a little elevated 

with liquor, he was said to have drunk to a " merry 


" No song, no laugh, no jovial din 
Of drinking wassail to the pin." 

— Longfellow's Golden Legend. 

No doubt the pins were started with the good inten- 
tion of preventing people drinking more than was good 
for them ; but the difficulty of being able to " nick the 
pin," i.e. to dnnkjuslto the pin, and being compelled to 
drink to the next one when this was not done, made 
the remedy worse than the disease ; for, whilst any 
person able to " nick the pin " was not likely to become 
a " merry one," on the other hand, those unable or 
unwilling to do so might empty the tankard by the 
" rules of good fellowship," and drink to a " merry 
pin " indeed. From preventive it became incentive, 
and got worse and worse till, in 1102, Anselm, 
Archbishop of Canterbury, had to condemn a practice 


originally intended to insure moderation. Dr. Milner 
thinks King Edgar would not have attempted to force 
the law of putting pins in drinking-cups upon the 
nation at large unless the people had been in some 
degree prepared by seeing it already observed in their 
different religious communities. And again, when 
Archbishop Anselm condemned that practice, we learn 
that priests were also forbidden to drink at or to the 
pin — " nee ad Pinnas bibant." It seems, therefore, 
that hard drinking amongst priests was very general, 
those who started the pins, and those who put a stop to 
them, turning first to their own religious communities 
to enforce the laws. 

Dutch drinking-cups, usually of wood, had one 
pin about the middle, and we have already observed 
that a forfeit was incurred by those who stopped 
drinking above or below it. It is possible that the 
first pin-cups in Great Britain had also but one pin in 
the middle, and that in later days they were divided 
into eight parts. Opinions differ on this point, and 
it is difficult to know which is the right one ; but it 
seems to be thought that hard drinking was introduced 
into England from Holland, Denmark, and other 
northern countries, and so it is quite likely that the 
pin custom existed there also at a very early date ; and 
as these northern countries are accused of introducing 
the evil, it would be pleasant to give them the credit 
of also inventing a remedy (though it did end in 
failure !), thus preserving the " entente cordiale " with 
our northern neighbours, and the peace of the world 
in general, which might otherwise have been endangered 
by these insinuations ! That hard drinking was intro- 
duced from northern countries is probable from the 
derivations of many of the expressions used in the 


carousing. " Half-seas over," as applied to a state 
of drunkenness, originated from "op-zee," which in 
Dutch means (literally) " over-sea," and GifFord in- 
forms us that it was a name given to a stupefying 
beer introduced into England from the Low Countries, 
hence " op-zee " or " over-sea." The word " carouse," 
according to Gifford, is derived from the name of a 
large glass called a "rouse," in which a health was 
given, the drinking of which by the rest of the 
company formed a " carouse." Or, according to 
Blount's Glossographia^ from the Old German words 
"gar" (all), and " ausz " (out): so that to drink 
" garaux " is to drink " all out," hence " carouse." It 
is necessary to add that there could be no " rouse " 
or " carouse" unless the glasses were emptied. 

Avery fine specimen of these pin-cups, of undoubt- 
edly Saxon work, formerly belonging to the Abbey 
of Glastonbury, is now in the possession of the 
Dowager Lady Arundell of Wardour. It holds two 
quarts, and formerly had eight pins inside, dividing 
the liquor into half-pints. The four uppermost pins 
remain, and the holes from which the other four have 
fallen can be plainly seen. The cup is of oak, its full 
height with the lid being eight inches, its diameter six 
inches, and depth inside about six inches. The whole 
has been lacquered with a strong varnish, which has no 
doubt greatly contributed to its preservation. On the 
lid is carved a crucifix, with the Virgin and St. John 
on either side of the cross. The knob on the top of 
the handle, intended to raise the cover with, represents 
a bunch of grapes. 

Round the body of the cup are carved the figures of 
the twelve apostles, whose names are inscribed on labels 
under their respective figures. Each figure holds an open 


book in his hand, excepting St. Peter, who bears a key ; 
St. John, who supports a chalice ; and Judas Iscariot, 
who grasps a purse. Under the names of the apostles 
are seen birds, beasts, and flowers of different kinds, and 
under these again, serpents, their heads joined, in twos, 
thus producing the appearance of strange monsters. 
Dr. Milner, from whose article on this cup in ArchcBO- 
logia, written in 1793, we obtain our information, says 
that he can discover no consistent meaning in these 
last-mentioned ornaments ; he therefore attributes 
them to the fancy of the artist. 

Three lions couchant form the feet upon which 
the cup stands, and descend an inch below the body 
of it. It is thought that the reason lions were so 
often adopted by our ancestors as the supporters 
of thrones, statues, and a variety of other things, 
is in consequence of their having been used to 
support the throne of Solomon ; this we learn in 
I Kings X. 19-20. In a letter dated loth June 1793, 
from Lord Arundell, the following is taken : " This 
cup is said to have been brought to Wardour Castle 
from the antient Abbey of Glassenbury, and is 
one of the very few things which were saved at the 
destruction of that antient structure" (in 1540). Dr. 
Milner further explains that it was natural at the 
destruction of the monasteries that their inhabitants 
should have entrusted such valuable and curious 
effects as had escaped the plunder of the commissioners 
to their friends in the neighbourhood, in hopes of 
better times. So it is more than likely that by this 
means the cup came into the possession of the 
Arundell family, who had not changed their religion, 
and one branch of which was then settled at Wardour. 
The cup was again saved to the Arundells in the 


great rebellion. For in May 1663 Sir Edward 
Hungerford, the rebel commander in the west, and 
Colonel Strode with an army of 1 300 men summoned 
Blanch, Lady Arundell, to surrender the plate belong- 
ing to the family and allow the castle to be searched 
for this purpose. She refused to comply with this 
request, and with twenty-five fighting men stood the 
siege for nine days. When obliged to surrender she 
kept the cup, and on retiring to Winchester at 
the death of her husband she took it with her, 
and kept it as long as she lived. With the exception 
of the pins, the cup is as perfect as when it first came 
from the workman's hands ; but several reasons are 
given by Dr. Milner for presuming that this tankard 
was used in the Abbey of Glastonbury before the 
Norman Conquest. One reason he gives is, that with 
the exception of three, whose proper emblems are 
traced from scripture itself, the apostles have not the 
distinctive marks which from about the eleventh or 
twelfth centuries are generally affixed to their figures. 
Another reason is that each of the apostles' figures is 
placed under a circular arch, which being indented in the 
under part, in a zigzag manner, and surmounted with 
a kind of tortuous moulding, seems to bespeak a true 
Saxon origin. Long hair and long beards, especially 
amongst ecclesiastical personages, Dr. Milner also con- 
siders to have been much more common in the time of 
the Saxons than after the Norman invasion ; and the 
letters which compose the inscriptions are as old as the 
tenth or eleventh centuries, if not older. They consist 
entirely of Roman characters, and must be coeval with 
the Conquest, about which time the Roman capitols, 
Dr. Milner says, degenerated into the Gothic. 

This splendid cup with all its associations makes 



a strong appeal to the imagination, for, through all 
the length of years that have passed away since the 
time of King Edgar and St. Dunstan, Glastonbury 
Abbey, now in ruins, remains to this day a place of 
immense historical interest. It is through the kindness 
of its present owner that we are able to give illustrations 
(Plate XV., Illustrations i and 2) of this interesting and 
historical relic, to which time seems but to add fresh 
beauty, and which can never cease to be the wonder 
and admiration of all. 

Plate XV., Illustrations 3 and 4, also represent a pin 
tankard, beautifully carved. Round the body of the 
cup, under four arches supported by pillars, we find the 
following scriptural subjects : Samson reclining in the 
lap of Delilah, who is cutting his hair, and a Philis- 
tine is seen approaching, carrying a coil of rope and 
an axe ; Samson carrying off the gates of Gaza ; 
the faithful spies, bearing a large bunch of grapes 
on a pole ; and Joseph with Potiphar's wife. The 
handle of the cup represents a nude female figure, 
wearing a ram's horned mask in place of a fig-leaf. 
Her feet are hidden in the neck of a ram, into which 
they are thrust up to the ankles. 

This cup stands upon four lions couchant, and 
there is a fifth lion at the top of the handle. The 
cover has a figure of Bacchus upon it, astride a 
cask, holding a cup and flagon in his hands. The 
carving is much finer and more finished than that of 
the Glastonbury cup, but has not the same rugged 
grandeur. Little or nothing is known of its history, 
and the present owner, who bought it at Christie's 
from the collection of the late Sir Isaac Lyon Goldsmid 
some years ago, believes it to be about 200 years old. 
The cup is 5I inches high by 6^ inches in diameter ; 


I. The Glastonbury I'in-cup. 
(Height witli lid, 8 in. ; 
diameter, 6 in.) 

2. The Glastonbury I'in-cup, shewing 
tlie Pins. 

3. Curved Wooden I'in-cup. (Height 
without lid, 5I in. ; diameter, 
5^ in.) 

4. Curved Wuudcii I'ui-cup, .shewing the I'in.s 


depth inside, §^ inches. It is made of lignum vitae 
and there are six pins inside. 

Another of these wooden pin-cups was bought at 
Yarmouth and presented to Dr. Pegge, an antiquarian 
who died in 1796. It is carved with scriptural sub- 
jects — Solomon enthroned, with the Queen of Sheba 
before him ; Absalom suspended from a tree, and 
Joab on horseback thrusting a spear through his side ; 
David appears above playing on a harp ; Jacob's 
dream, &c. &c. On the rim over the figures are 
inscriptions relating to them, and on the lid a re- 
presentation of Abraham entertaining the three 

The late Mrs. Baxendale, of Blackmoor End in 
Hertfordshire, had a silver cup with six silver pins 
inside it, dated about 1400. There is also a silver 
pin-cup in the Victoria and Albert Museum at South 
Kensington, said to be Dutch, and a considerable 
number of ancient maple-wood tankards of this kind 
exist in the Museum of the Royal Castle of Rosen- 
berg at Copenhagen. 

There is one other reference to pin-cups which 
must not be omitted. On the river Medway, five 
reaches below the town of Chatham, there is a 
portion of the river which was at one time called 
" Pin-cup." The reach thus named is the shortest 
on the river, and we presume that this fact sug- 
gested its name. It is now usually spoken of as " Pine 

Pin-cups have long passed out of use, and pin 
measures are no more, but the expressions connected 
with them still remain, and the phrase "to put in the 
pin," meaning to refrain from drinking, is evidently 
in allusion to the row of pins in tankards. The 


original sense apparently having been lost sight of, it 
is now applied merely to any habit or course of con- 
duct which it is desirable should be stopped : as, " To 
put in the pin at New Year," i.e. to turn over a new 
leaf; "He had two or three times resolved to . . . 
put in the pin." (Mayhew's London Labour and 
London Poor, i. 345.) 

Still another phrase derived from the custom of 
the peg tankard is " to peg out," or " pin out " — he 
who in drinking was overcome by too many pegs, or 
pins, and succumbed to their influence, being said to 
be "pegged" or "pinned out," Before this stage 
was arrived at the convivial were said, by having 
another peg, " to screw themselves up a peg," in the 
event of being a " peg too low " : — 

" Come, old fellow, drink down to your peg ! 
But do not drink any further, I beg." 

— Longfellow, Golden Legend, iv. 

To take a man down a peg is another old saying, 
which meant to drink at one draught enough liquor 
to uncover one more peg than his neighbour. 

Halliwell, in his Dictionary of Archaic and Pro- 
vincial Words, explains the phrase " on the pin " as = on 
the qui vive ; " in a merry pin," i.e. a merry humour. 
L'Estrange uses the word "pin" for a "note" or 
"strain"; it is not unlikely that the phrase "in a 
merry pin" may have been used for "in a merry 
key" or "strain." 

It has been suggested that Cowper in his poem 
"John Gilpin" did not mean it in this sense when 
he wrote — 

•' The calender, right glad to find 
His friend in merry pin." 

A "MERRY PIN" loi 

It is, however, impossible to accuse our old friend 
John Gilpin of having drunk to a merry pin, for — 

" The bottles twain behind his back 

Were shatter'd at a blow " ; 
and — 

" Down ran the wine into the road, 

Most piteous to be seen." 

Cowper must have meant here that the dear old 
fellow, in spite of all his trials on that disastrous day, 
was still able to appear in a merry humour, or, as his 
friend put it, " in a merry pin." This same phrase 
is very frequently met with in the seventeenth century, 
meaning " high jinks," "larking." 

" Hark, how the frothy, empty heads within 
Roar and carouse ith' jovial Sin, 
Amidst the wilde Levalto's on their merry Pin." 

— Benlowe's Theophila (1652). 

" My Lady and her Maid upon a merry pin 
They made a match." 

— Antidote against Melancholy (1661). 

" As the woman was upon the peevish pin, a poor 
body comes, while the forward fit was upon her, to 
beg " (L'Estrange). This is a very quaint rendering 
of " pin humour." 

In case our readers are " pegged out," or " a peg 
too low," after hearing so much about pins, of which 
subject they may well by now be weary ; and as we 
hope they will, like John Gilpin, bravely endeavour 
to bear up through all the mazes of this inexhaustible 
subject, and like him maintain a "merry pin" until 
the end, we must ask them to " screw themselves up 
a peg," as there is still much to say, and we cannot 
yet " put in the pin," We can only give it different 


form and convert the " merry pin " into the " pin- 

This curious term was used by our ancestors in 
connection with the youngest child of a family ; the 
child was called the " pin-basket," and at the present 
time we believe it to be not quite out of use as an 
expression. According to our dictionaries the " pin- 
basket " is the youngest child of a family, and in a 
French dictionary we have seen it explained by simply 
the word " Benjamin." The mother's youngest child 
is called the " pin-basket," because the basket con- 
taining the infant toilet remains thereafter pinned up 
and closed. The term was, however, certainly at one 
time made use of to express having finished or "done 
with a thing," and in this sense it is undoubtedly 
meant in the following quotations : — 

" But, as children used to keep their plumbs to the 
last, so our author (after all his preliminary reasons) 
hath kept the Will of King Henry the Eighth as a stone 
in his sleeve, for the pin-basket^ or clcncher, to all 
the rest." {T'he Succession of the House of Hannover^ 
Vindicated^ &c. (edition 17 14), p. 4.) 

" I find he has met with something he is 
mighty fond of, and hath made it his pin-basket of 
instances." {The Pretender s Declaration Abstracted^ 
&c. (1715), p 17.) 

" As a pin-basket^ or murdering stroke to Chris- 
tianity," &c. (Jsgill upon Woolston, 1730.) 

" And I do also believe that this expression is now 
calculated to be the last of the exceptions as the 
pin-basket upon me of what I can neither answer nor 
excuse." (Defence^ &c. (17 12), p. ^6.) 

Peasants in Wales are sometimes heard to say, " I 
will put a pin in her basket." By which they mean, 


in the vulgar tongue, " I will do for the chap," " I 
will finish him oiF," " I will cook his hash for 

There is an interesting paragraph from Miss 
Eleanor Hayden's Travels 'Round our Village which 
illustrates that rendering of the term pin-basket which 
means " finished," or " done with," or '* the last of a 
thing " : " In some villages it is still the custom to 
bring the feast week to a close by a second dance on 
the last evening ; this, in local phraseology, is styled 
' pinning up ' the feast, and the process attracts many 
villagers from the surrounding villages. I have been 
often told that Mary, or Emily Jane, is gone to ' pin 
up the feast,' at such and such a place ; and much 
perplexed I was at first by this mysterious ex- 

It is strange to find old-fashioned traditions and 
expressions clinging like ivy to some places, whilst in 
others they seem never to have been heard of, or else 
to have been quite forgotten. Many of them are 
handed down from father to son, orally, and as 
there must in some generations be people who do 
not adhere to this rule, or whose memories are not 
good, a link in the chain is thus broken and a gap 
made which is never repaired ; and so, gradually, the 
thing dies out altogether, and the old customs, tradi- 
tions, and expressions are swept away by that resistless 
current which Spencer has called " the ever-whirling 
wheel of change." Goldsmith says, " I love every- 
thing old — old friends, old times, old manners, old 
books, old wines," and we are told that King James 
used to call for his old shoes, as they were easier for 
his feet ! Our readers will agree with King James, 
and we all find it pleasant occasionally to visit some 


retired spot which still rests in the calm waters of 
its old traditions. Here we may also call for our 
old shoes, and still find people who talk of " pinning 
up the feast," a " pin-basket," and a thousand other 
things of which history makes no mention. 


" O he has run to Darlinton, 
And tirled at the pin." — Prince Robert, ix. 

We must now carry our readers ofF in search of yet 
another kind of pin, and as this must be done as speedily 
as possible, for time flies, let us for once imagine 
ourselves to have a witch's privilege of flying through 
the air on a broomstick, and thus be transported to 
the " Old Town " in Edinburgh. We will then hunt 
among the oldest houses, and examine the entrance 
doors, where it is said the " tirling-pin " may some- 
times still be found ; though about the year 1765 
knockers were very generally substituted for them, 
in this and other large towns, as being more genteel. 

The tirling-pin is a Scotch invention of the olden 
time, and was formed of a small square rod of iron 
twisted or otherwise notched, which was placed perpen- 
dicularly, starting out a little from the door, and bearing 
a small ring of the same metal, which those who desired 
admittance drew rapidly up and down the nicks or 
twists so as to make a grating sound. The ring could 
be tirled lightly to give merely a musical tinkle, 
enough to obtain attention, or it could be pulled up 
and down the notches rapidly, producing sound enough 
to waken the " Seven Sleepers." It is still usual in 
Scotland when any one raps at the door to say that 
he, or she, is " tirlin' at the door." " Tirl " (Anglice 



twirl or agitate) in Lowland Scotch is used for a rap, 
a stroke, a tap ; " tirling," for the tremulous thrilling 
motion produced by repeated knocks. The word 
came to be used for the expedient whereby notice 
was given to open a closed or locked door. 

Amongst Scottish ballads allusions are made to 
this relic of antiquity : — 

"And whan she cam' to Lord Beichan's yetts, 
She tirl'd gently at the pin, 
So ready was the proud porter 

To let the wedding guests come in." 

— From " Lord Beichan" an Aberdeenshire 

Another is from " Sweet William's Ghost " — 

" There came a ghost to Marg'ret's door 
With many a grevious groan \ 
And aye he tirled at the pin, 
But answer she made none." 

In the next we meet our old friend the " merry pin " — 

" I hope it's nae a sin 
Sometimes to tirl a merry pin." 

— From " Skinner's Miscellanies." 

We conclude this to mean that any one returning 
home in a " merry pin" would tirl or rap at the 
door in a way peculiar to that condition. 

Burns alludes to it in " Verses Written on a 
Window of the Inn at Carron " — 

" But when we tirl'd at your door 
Your porter dought na hear us." 

It is evident that " tirling the pin " in these old 
ballads was equal to turning, lifting the latch, or 
trying the door, and was not always responded to 
from within. 


Glass Rolliny-pins. (Si/c, lo tw 13 in. long.) 
From 80 /c? 100 )'(•(/ ;-^ ij/rf. 


I. Tirling-pin with latcli 2. Tirling-pin wiih only 3. Tirling-pin with only 

attached at top, and an iron ring or hasp. an iron ring or hasp, 

iron ring or hasp. 

Used in Scot!a?!d till al'oi/t 1765, when knockers came into fashion. 


A good description of a tirling-pin is given in 
Peveril of the Peak^ when Julian seeks an entrance 
into the residence of his lady-love at the Black Fort 
in the Isle of Man : " An iron ring, contrived so as 
when drawn up and down to rattle against the bar 
of notched iron through which it was suspended, 
served the purpose of knocker, and to this he applied 

There are two tirling-pins at John Knox's House 
in Edinburgh, and there is one on the door of Masterton 
Farm-house, Masterton Village, near Dunfermline ; 
with these exceptions it seems doubtful if even one 
remains anywhere in Scotland, though it is true some 
houses recently erected in Ramsay Garden, Edinburgh, 
have been supplied with wooden tirling-pins on their 
entrance doors, in imitation of the old ones. 

The Society of Antiquarians of Scotland have 
a good collection of real iron tirling-pins at the 
National Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh. 
Some of the more modern ones have a latch attached 
to the top (Plate XVI., Illustration i), but those of an 
earlier date only just the iron ring or hasp (Illustrations 
2 and 3, Plate XVI.), the use of which we have already 

The only instance we can find of a tirling-pin 
out of Scotland was on the front door of the rectory 
at Ovingham-on-Tyne, in Northumberland. The 
present incumbent of the parish tells us that about 
nine years ago the front entrance of the rectory was 
enlarged and altered, and the old door was done away 
with, but the tirling-pin was preserved, and now hangs 
on the inside of the garden door. 

It does not perhaps seem very clear why they were 
called pins. But wherever a description of them is 


given, they are spoken of as " an iron handle or pin 
inserted in a door," or as " a pin, or risp, on the 
door." Also as "the upright pin which answers 
to the handle." The handle is certainly the "pin," 
and as the oldest tirling-pins were merely staples — 
a staple being a bar bent and driven in at both 
ends, the ends being sharpened to a point for this 
purpose (see Illustrations 2 and 3, Plate XVI.) — we 
suppose this must be the reason they were originally 
called tirling-pins. 

The primitive door-latch in time took the place 
of the tirling-pin, and may still be seen in very old 
cottages where the wooden bar inside is lifted by a 
wooden lever which projects outside. Callers used 
to rattle this up and down to attract attention. This 
was superseded with a latch lifted by a string, which 
had to be carefully handled, and would not bear 
much rattling. Then came the more pretentious 

So again we find old fashions cast off for new 
ones, and the knocker (though it cannot be said to be 
quite out of fashion) is now seldom seen, and still 
more seldom used, even by the postman. The 
shrill note of an electric bell is gradually taking 
the place of all other methods of obtaining ad- 
mittance to a house, and we find it at present 
a most excellent invention. But, who knows, when 
another hundred years have passed away it will 
probably have fallen into disuse like the tirling-pin, 
and some contrivance, undreamt of now, be established 
in its place. 

A " door-pin " was used in Derbyshire more than 
fifty years ago, but, unlike the tirling-pin, which was 
meant to assist people to enter a house, the " door- 


pin " was used to prevent their entrance. When a 
gossip was out chattering with her neighbours she 
would fasten down the door-latch from the outside 
with a piece of wood called a door-pin, this being an 
understood notice that she was from home, and the 
house must not be entered by callers. This pin is 
also a thing of the past, but we must not forget the 
" rolling-pin," still a familiar article in our kitchens. 
It has its poetical aspect, and once upon a time a 
certain baroness (her name is not revealed) had the 
"arms" of her husband emblazoned upon the kitchen 
rolling-pin with which his pastry was prepared, thus 
transforming this prosaic article. 

Glass rolling-pins are, however, very pretty things, 
and many of our readers will have seen them hanging 
up in cottages, especially near the sea, for they were 
usually a sailor's charm, given to his sweetheart, or 
received from her before starting on a voyage, to 
secure *' good luck." The sailor would hang the 
rolling-pin in his cabin, and no doubt derived great 
comfort from its presence, especially if it was by 
chance adorned with such touching words as "Think 
on me." 

A great many glass rolling-pins have found their 
way into the midland counties, and the eight speci- 
mens shewn in Plate XVI., Illustration 4, come from 
in or near Worksop. Nos. i and 2 were in the first 
place given by sailors to their wives or sweethearts 
before starting on a long voyage, presumably in the 
good ship Jane^ of which ship there is a fine 
portrait upon the rolling-pin. No. 3 has the motto 
"Love and be Happy," with a wreath of roses and 
leaves round it. On the left of the words we 
see a ship in full sail ; below the ship the words 


" Great Australia," and on the right these lines 

appear — 

" From rocks and sounds and barren lands 
Kind fortune keep me free, 
And from great guns and women's tongues 
Good Lord deliver me ! " 

No. 4 has in the centre the words "Forget me 
not," with three roses above and three below them. 
Set in a wreath of leaves, on the left is this verse — 

" Sweet, oh sweet is that sensation 
When two hearts in union meet, 
But the pain of separation 

Mingles bitter with the sweet." 

On the right is a ship, almost entirely hidden by a 
compass. Below the ship are the words, " Come box 
the compass," surrounded by a wreath of roses. 

No. 5 is a beautiful specimen of the art of blow- 
ing glass in two colours, and No. 6 hangs in a cottage 
at Worksop, and was sent to its owner on her wedding 
day more than fifty years ago. It has hung in the 
same place ever since, used only on special occasions 
to prepare pastry for weddings or birthdays. When 
first presented, this rolling-pin was filled with the best 
tea that was then procurable, and if it was the old 
gunpowder sort, then the contents would weigh one 
pound, and the value would be perhaps ys. 6d. At 
the present time it is filled with sand. 

No. 7 has the words " Thou God see'st me " in 
the centre, and on either side appears a ship in full 


No. 8 is a " Token of love," and a large rose set 
in leaves is placed above the words ; on the left, below 
the words, is a view of a bridge with ships passing 
under it. There are clouds above the bridge, and 


above the clouds the words, " An east view of the 
New Bridge, Sunderland," 

This rolling-pin was made at one of the glass-works 
in the north of England, and so were Nos. i and 2. 
Nos. 3 and 4 are the oldest, and were made at Bristol 
about one hundred years ago. Nos. 5 and 6 were 
made in Yorkshire seventy or eighty years ago. 
No. 7 was also made at Bristol, but it is not so old 
as Nos. 3 and 4. 

The rolling-pins were generally loaded with either 
sand or salt, and they were from ten to fifteen inches 
long, and four or five inches in circumference. 

The Connoisseur of June 191 1 has a delightful 
article on " Nailsea Glass," by H. St. George Gray, 
from which we learn many interesting particulars con- 
cerning glass rolling-pins ; the illustrations shew speci- 
mens described by Mr. Gray as having been blown into 
almost every colour of the rainbow. He tells us they 
were sometimes sixteen inches long, and occasionally 
filled with flour. 



" Could Time, his flight reversed, restore the hours 
When, playing with thy vestures' tissued flowers, 
The violet, the pink, and jessamine, 
I prick'd them into paper with a pin." 

— CowPER, Lines on the Receipt of my Mother's Picture. 

An interesting pastime, much enjoyed by some of our 
ancestors, exhibits the pin as an instrument capable of 
producing really artistic work, and gives yet another 
turn to this seemingly inexhaustible subject ; we refer 
to pin-prickt pictures. These charming pictures are 
very rare, and strangely little is known of their history, 
but they are believed to be mostly of English make, 
and some are quite two hundred years old. A wonder- 
ful variety of design and composition is shewn in the 
making of them, and with the addition of a little 
water-colour painting they assume quite a decorative 
character. The borders of flowers and leaves, partly 
prickt and partly coloured, are extremely delicate and 
dainty, and when forming a framework to figures in 
picturesque costume, the whole effect is most pleasing. 
Some are merely quaint, but all are of interest as shew- 
ing the kind of elaborate and laborious work with 
which our ancestors were wont to vary the mono- 
tony of their daily lives. From the introduction to 
Mr. Andrew Tuer's Old- fashioned Children's Book., a 
collection and reprint of many little books familiar 


in early days, we quote the following : *' Pricking 
pictures with pins was another agreeable accomplish- 
ment. The pins were of several thicknesses, broad 
lines and heavy shadows being prickt on paper with 
stout, and the finer work with thin pins. A toothed 
wheel with sharp points was used for outlines. For 
filling up large spaces two or more wheels were 
mounted on one axle. Without such labour-saving 
appliances, the more ambitious and microscopically 
minute pin-prickt pictures, specimens of which survive, 
could not have been achieved." This must have been 
very elaborate work, and a simpler method is described 
in The Toung Ladies Book : a Manual of Elegant 
Recreations^ Exercises^ and Pursuits. 

" Piercing Costumes on Paper." " Turkish or other 
figures, in oriental costume or draperies, are produced 
by a combination of water-colour painting for the 
features, with a series of small punctures made with 
needles of various sizes for the dresses. The face, hands, 
and feet being first drawn and coloured, the outline and 
folds of the drapery are marked with a tracing needle ; 
the paper is then laid upon a piece of smooth cloth, 
or a few sheets of blotting-paper, and the punctures 
inserted in the folds of the dress from the front to the 
back of the paper ; the drawing is then laid with its 
surface downwards, and the interior of the various out- 
lines filled up with punctures made with a very fine 
needle, from the back to the front of the paper. It 
sometimes affords a pleasing variety if the costume be 
wholly or partially coloured, as it relieves the monotony 
of the white. Needles of various sizes should be used 
at discretion, and the whole of the background or 
body of the paper painted in some sober opaque colour 
to throw up the figure." 



From this it would appear that needles were some- 
times used instead of pins, but the pins were more 
convenient to hold, and must, we think, have been the 
recognised instruments for this work, though perhaps 
where very fine pricks were required, needles might be 

After a careful examination of those pin-prickt 
pictures we have been so fortunate as to come across, 
we think the last method described, from The Toung 
Ladies^ Book, must be correct. The whole design in 
each picture appears to be outlined with rather 
larger pricks, done from the front to the back, and 
all the filling up (of spaces) is prickt from the back 
to the front of the paper, as though following the 
directions given. We sec no reason why anything 
but a pin, or perhaps a needle for the very finest 
work, should have been used. But it is of course 
true that the labour with a pin alone would be very 
great ; we must therefore admit the possibility of some 
other kind of tool being utilised. The pins may have 
been inserted into a handle ; several pins might be 
used in this way, which would considerably lessen the 

Plate I., represented in our Frontispiece, might 
well have been done from the directions given in The 
Toung Ladies^ Book. It is a fine specimen of pin- 
pricking. The lady's face, hands, and hair are painted, 
as well as the back of the chair on which she is 
seated, and the ribbons and feathers which flutter 
round as though stirred by some gentle breeze. It 
is a clever picture, full of life, and so realistic we seem 
actually to see the lady's fingers pass swiftly over the 
harp-strings, and to hear the sound of the music she 
makes. The dress is entirely pin-prickt, and the 


rin-prickt Picture. (English. 
About t7i>o hu /id red yean old. 


Piii-prickt I'icture (ICnglish). 
About /zvo /ill lid red years old. 


folds so well expressed in broad masses and fine lines, 
we do not miss the pencil shading or the deep shadows 
made with paint and brush that usually help to make 
a picture. The pricks express everything ; is not this 
very wonderful ? If our readers have read the direc- 
tions given in The l^oung Ladies* Book, and will now 
examine this picture closely, they will see for them- 
selves that by marking out the prominent folds of 
the dress with rather larger pricks from the front 
to the back of the picture, and then turning it round 
and placing it face downwards, and filling up all those 
parts between the prominent lines with small pricks 
put very close together from the back to the front, the 
folds will then stand out, making their own shadows. 
Plates XVII. and XVIII. are not so finely prickt as 
Plate I., and the design and painting of the borders 
is much less finished, but they are probably older, and 
it is believed that those pictures which have a saint 
painted in water-colour as their chief decoration or 
ornament were made from one hundred to two 
hundred years ago in the religious houses that were 
then numerous in different parts of England, especi- 
ally in the eastern counties. Those which survive 
the ravages of time, and have descended to Roman 
Catholic families now living, are looked upon as very 
great treasures, and their owners are unwilling to part 
with them. 

St. Stephen (Plate XVII.) and St. Francis (Plate 
XVIII.) have similar borders entirely pin-prickt and 
surrounded by waved lines painted in two shades of 
blue. Little painted bouquets of pink flowers with 
blue leaves are introduced. St. Stephen holds the 
martyr's palm, and St. Francis the cross ; he wears 
the friar's habit of his Order, and on his hands we see 


the wounds which it is said appeared on them, and 
also on his feet, shortly before his death. They were, 
like those of our Saviour, continually bleeding, and after 
his death disappeared entirely. These two pictures 
are quaint and curious, and the painting of the figures 
shews much skill, but it is of course impossible to 
say if the same hand painted and prickt them. 

Plate XIX. was found in a curiosity shop at San 
Remo ; no information could be gathered from, its 
owner excepting that it was very old. It is tinted 
in very delicate tones, the bow at the top being 
pale rose colour, and there are touches of blue here 
and there. The face, hands, and furniture are also 
painted. If this figure is compared with Plate I. 
(Frontispiece) our readers will at once see that the 
folds, though marked out with larger pricks, do not 
stand out in the same realistic way. The whole has a 
flatter appearance, and there is not so much life and 
movement. It is very finely prickt indeed, and the 
light and tasteful border, a mixture of pricks and 
painting, deserves the highest praise. The table is 
rather uncomfortably out of drawing, but the floor 
has some attempt at perspective ; and the woman, 
whose face is very dark, holds in her hand what appears 
to be the " merry-thought " bone of a chicken, thought 
to be a charm against drowning. She may be about 
to wish a wish in some mysterious way of her own, 
but it is a serious business, for her face betrays an 
anxious mind. What is the history of the picture, 
where it was made, and when, must be a matter of 

Plate XX. is said to be a rare and valuable specimen. 
The gentleman's dusky countenance proclaims him 
from the East, as does his oriental costume. Only 



Pin-prickt Picture. 

Nationality and date loik/ioxvn. 


I'in-pricla I'iclure. 
A'atio/ta!i/v and date tniknown. 




^K'^ :^ ./ 



rin-prickl Picture (English). 
Date 1780. 


Pin-prickt Picture (English). 
Date 1780. 


the face and the hands of the figure are painted, 
and one boot which peeps from the flowing white 
draperies. He is a busy, careful man, note the hour- 
glass to time his work, and see how diligently he 
mends his pen ! The ink-pot makes us feel rather 
uncomfortable, and we fear it will slide off that slanting 
table long before the pen is ready to be dipped into it. 
The colouring of this picture is very crude. The 
chair has a bright crimson back, and black and yellow 
woodwork. The hour-glass is also crimson, and the 
table and floor are pink. 

Plates XXI. and XXII. are perhaps the most 
beautiful examples we have been able to procure. 
They are a fine pair of pictures, of English make, 
dated 1780. Plate XXI. represents two boys at play, 
and might well be named " The Twins," so much 
alike are these pretty playmates. One boy is preparing 
to spin his top, whilst the other, with a whistle in his 
hand, anxiously awaits the happy moment when it will 
be flung upon the ground to hum its own particular 
tune over the floor. The boys' heads and hands, 
their shoes, sashes, and toys, and the buttons on their 
coats are painted, all the rest is prickt. 

In Plate XXII. a little boy dressed in somewhat 
fantastic style is playing a violin. Plis face, hands, 
hair, and shoes are painted, as well as his violin and 
bow and the ribbon, feathers, and rosettes that adorn 
his dainty little person. Each picture is surrounded 
by the same lovely border, a design of leaves and stems 
that resemble small branches of coral ; at the top is a 
shell-like ornament from which depend little festoons 
of flowers and leaves. The groundwork of each 
border is painted pink, with crossed lines forming little 
squares upon it, and a green stem twists itself through 


the border on each side. Every detail is beautifully 
and carefully rendered in colour and pricks, and these 
two pictures are prettier than we can describe, the 
colouring is so delicate and the pricking so fine, 
giving to the whole a most quaint and old-fashioned 

The two oval pictures (Plate XXIII., Illustrations 
I and 2) contain silhouette portraits of Henry IV. of 
France and his friend and minister, the celebrated 
" Sulli." We have several times observed, in describ- 
ing pin-pictures, that they were " very finely prickt." 
These two, however, surpass all we have seen in this 
respect ; and what makes them still more remarkable 
is the fact that without the aid of pencil or brush 
the pictures separate themselves from the paper in 
clear and perfect relief, this effect being produced 
entirely by pin-pricks. King Henry wears a wreath 
of laurels, and his hair and beard are prickt into 
the most realistic resemblance of innumerable little 
curls. Every detail is well defined ; one can even 
read the King's sinister expression. Sulli has a much 
pleasanter cast of countenance, and his hair, though 
not so abundant, is also prickt into many curls. The 
ruff at his neck is singularly perfect, and every part 
of the picture rich in detail. Particular interest is 
attached to these two pictures as coming from Knole, 
that picturesque and historical residence replete with 
every kind of treasure, and filled with the golden 
memories of those kings, queens, archbishops, and 
cardinals who have at different times made it their 

We have the pleasure and honour of knowing 
a lady now in her loist year, who plays the piano 
with great skill every day of her life, usually takes 


I. I'in-prickt Silhouette Portrait 

of Henry IV. of France. 

17//; century. 

2. l^in-prickt Silhouette I'ortrait 


ijth centiirv. 

3. Piii-prickt Picture. (P.y a lady, now living, aged 100 years.) 



a walk in the morning, and receives her numerous 
friends at tea-time. She remembers in her youth 
pricking many pictures with pins, but unfortunately 
they have not been preserved. However, on hearing 
we were interested in this charming pursuit, she set 
to work, undaunted by age and somewhat failing 
sight, and presented us with the little picture here re- 
produced (Plate XXIII., Illustration 3). Her method 
was to place the paper on which the outline of the 
flower had been drawn, on to a piece of soft material ; 
she prickt the outline with a pin on the right side, 
and then filled up all the spaces in the flower and 
its leaves with pin-pricks put very close together. 
When it was all filled up she lifted the prickt 
paper and turned it round, shewing the rough side 
which the pins had pierced, the paper being raised 
by this process. This was the right side of the 
picture, and we feel sure all will agree that it is a 
wonderful piece of work for a lady of so great an 
age to have accomplished. The method is almost 
but not quite the same as that described in ^he 
Toung Ladies' Book. 

Plate XXIV. reveals a difi^erent class of pin-picture, 
and has for its foundation a French print, partly 
coloured, shewing the *' Salle des Festins," at Versailles, 
on the occasion of a dinner given during the rejoicings 
for peace in 1763. The "Salle" is lighted with 
candles ' in chandeliers, suspended from the ceiling ; 
there are also candles upon the tables, and each candle 
tip is prickt with a pin. The walls, ceiling, and 
outlines of the windows and door are also prickt, and 
when this picture is held up against the light, the 
"Salle des Festins" has the appearance of being 
brilliantly illuminated by electricity. Hours must 


have been spent in the making of these pictures, 
and they must of course have varied in beauty and 
design according to the skill and imagination of the 

There seems to be an allusion to something of 
the kind in Cowper's lines on the " Receipt of my 
Mother's Picture " which head this chapter. 

Many middle-aged persons remember in their 
childhood being given pieces of paper on which designs 
had been traced with a pencil ; these were placed 
upon a well-stuffed chair or sofa, and the design 
prickt out with a pin, the pin going nicely through 
the paper into the chair or sofa, and coming out 
again with a pleasing and satisfactory sound, without, 
we presume, doing much harm to the furniture ! 
Something of this kind is done by children of the 
present day, so the art has not yet completely died 
out, but is not likely to be revived in its old-fashioned 
form. For leisure has now almost disappeared, and 
the hurry and rush in which we live would certainly 
prevent such laborious work from again becoming 
the fashion. A hundred, or two hundred years ago 
time hung more heavily, and the days we now consider 
far too short were then most likely far too long, 
and any employment, however difficult or intricate, 
could only have been looked upon as a welcome 
occupation with which to pass away many weary 
hours of each day. But though our lives are now 
enriched by other and more interesting occupations 
of a less laborious nature, a tender charm will ever 
surround the memory of those which, like pin-prickt 
pictures, have, alas, ceased to exist. 

That beautiful but unfortunate queen, Marie 
Antoinette, has immortalised the pin, and given to it 


a romantic and almost sacred character; for, during 

her imprisonment, wishing to communicate with some 

friends who were arranging an attempt to release 

her, she sent them a slip 

of thin white paper, five 

inches long by one and 

three-quarter inches wide, 

on which the following 

words were prickt with a 

pin: " Je suis gardee a vue, 

je ne parle a personne. Je 

me fie a vous, je viendrai." 

This letter, which was 
only deciphered in i 876 by 
Monsieur Pelinski, paleo- 
grapher, was written to the 
Comte de Rougeville, who 
had arranged to carry off 
the queen and take her 
to the Chateau de Livry 
(Seine et Oise), where two 
hundred armed horsemen 
were waiting to conduct 
her into Austria. 

She had no pen or 
pencil, and so with a pin 
painfully prickt out this 
message. But treason was 
at work, the message was 
betrayed, and all was lost. 
This was seven weeks before her death, and no other 
chance of escape was given her. By the kindness of 
Monsieur Dumoulin, the French publisher of La 
Revolution^ par Charles D'Hericault, in which book 


a facsimile of this celebrated letter appears, we are 
enabled to give a reproduction. 

The unhappy queen, deprived of everything that 
could occupy her fingers or her mind, is said to have 
also used a pin to write out a list of her linen upon 
the walls of the prison, thus adding another touching 
tribute to this useful and valuable little article, which 
must be honoured accordingly. 



" That last word prickt him like a pin." 

— Lowell, The Coiutin. 

The pathetic tale with which we ended our last 
chapter does not, however, close the subject of pin- 
pricks, and it is interesting to note how the pin, our 
daily and hourly companion through life, has pricked 
its way into everything, everywhere ; and has even 
become (in a figurative sense) the handle for a 
poUtical expression, in France first and afterwards 
in England. The " entente cordiale " between these 
countries being at the present moment so strong, 
it is gratifying to find a French expression giving us 
further matter for discussion on the subject. This 
expression, "a coups d'epingle," is translated in 
Contanseau's dictionary as " inch by inch," and 
Littre's Dictionnaire Etymologique explains it as 
" Petites offenses, petites contrarietes, que Ton inflige 
a quelqu'un." Larousse's Dictionnaire Universel says : 
" Coup d'epingle — Coup porte avec une epingle que 
Ton enfonce dans la peau. Fig. Blessure legere de 
I'amour propre." It evidently means a very subtle and 
acute pain of an exasperating, irritating nature, which 
may be administered by one person to another, and has 

also been administered by one nation to another at times 



of dissension and strife. As a political expression it 
was common in France more than a hundred years 
ago, but it is difficult, if not impossible, to ascertain 
exactly when it was first used, and by whom. 

It occurs in a letter dated August ii, 1777, from 
De Vergennes to DAngiviller, then Director of the 
French Board of Works. He proposes to suppress the 
words "ordered by the United States or States-General" 
in the description given in the Salon catalogue of 
a monument to General Richard de Montgomeri, 
who was killed at Quebec in 1775. " Ainsi," 
says De Vergennes, " nous evitons toute plainte, ce 
qui est toujours prudent, car ce ne sont jamais les 
coups d'epingle qui decident de la fortune des Etats ! " 

We also find it called " a classical expression in 
French," used by Jacques de Lille, the Virgillian poet, 
who was protected by Voltaire. In his poem La 
Conversation, published 1812, he wrote: — 

" J'aime a rever, mais je ne veux pas 
Qu' a coups d'epingle on me reveille." 

There are probably earlier examples of its use ; and 
taking the English words, in their literal sense, we 
can go back as far as Shakespeare for an instance : — 

" I will not swear these are my hands ; let's see ; 
I feel this pin-prick." 

— King Lear, Act iv. sc. 7 (written 1605). 

Cormenin,a French writer (born, 1783 ; died, i 866), uses 
the expression in a figurative sense. This is Cormenin's 
quotation : " Pour moi, dut-on blamer ce gotlt-la, je 
prefere ces militaires brutaux, qui degainent leur 
sabre et qui marchent droit sur vous, a ces rheteurs 
doucereux qui vous assassinent a coups d'epingle." 


We entirely agree with Cormenin's views upon this 
subject ; and who would not prefer a severe and even 
violent scolding which is soon over and forgotten, 
to the constant and exasperating nagging of those 
who can neither forget nor forgive. 

Alphonse Daudet (born, 1840; died, 1879) evi- 
dently agrees with Cormenin, for " coups d'epingle " 
forms part of the title of the eleventh chapter of 
his Aventures Prodigieuses de Tartarin de Tarascon. 
The chapter is headed " Des coups d'epee, Mes- 
sieurs, des coups d'epe'e. . . . Mais pas de coups 
d'epingle ! " 

In 1824 Sir Walter Scott described the chase of a 
hare by terriers, who " would have stuck to the chase 
till they had killed the hare, which would have been 
like being pricked to death with pins," (Lockhart's 
Life of Scott.') 

This phrase is also said to occur in the official 
account of the meeting between Napoleon and the 
Czar Alexander at Tilsit on 22nd June 1807, "For 
the maintenance of peace," Napoleon said, " nations 
should avoid the pin-pricks which forerun cannon- 
shots." There is another instance of Napoleon 
having used almost the same expression when he was 
imprisoned at St. Helena. " Lady Malcolm, in her 
Diary of St. Helena, writes, 19th June 18 17, 
Bonaparte said * It was possible to live under the 
regulations established by Sir George (Cockburn), 
but now we are tortured to death by pin-point 
wounds.' " 

Some of these quotations express such agonies 
of pain, they are almost Dantesque in character, and 
remind one of the tortures to be endured by sinners 
in the Inferno. But life is full of pin-pricks, and 


it seems an excellent way of expressing those small 
but exasperating worries with which we are con- 
stantly surrounded, which destroy vitality more 
slowly, but often more surely, than the sword- 
thrusts of greater troubles. Well may the poet 
sing, "What great events from little causes spring," 
and how often it would be wise to remember 
Napoleon's words and " avoid the pin-pricks which 
forerun cannon-shots." Thus we point a moral to 
adorn our tale ! 

The expression has certainly more power and is 
much more effective in French ; but we are, alas ! still 
far from knowing when it was first used, and by 
whom. It must have grown up with the pins in 
some mysterious way, for it seems as difficult to put 
an exact date to its birth, as it is to date the exact 
progress of pins from one stage of their existence 
to another, from their prehistoric source to the pins 
of to-day. " Pin-pricks " was used politically in Eng- 
land in 1885, and in Le Matin of November 8, 1898, 
a writer in that paper stated that ever since France 
refused to co-operate with England in Egypt, the 
French had inaugurated the policy of playing tricks 
on Great Britain, and that the English have at last 
been exasperated by the continual " pin-pricks " which 
have been given them. 

On November i6th the l^imes referring to this 
article used the words "a policy of pin-pricks," Le 
'Temfs of November 19th had an article denying on 
the part of France the existence of a " politique de 
coups d'epingle." Other newspapers took this up, 
and "a policy of pin-pricks" was common talk in 
London during the winter of 1898. 

The Daily Mail of i6th November 1898 had a 


leading article headed " The End of the Pin-pricks " : 
" In his speech last night at Manchester, Mr. Chamber- 
lain once more covered the whole field of Anglo- 
French relations. He saw no reason why in the 
future the two Powers should not be friends, but he 
clearly stated that no friendship is possible unless 
France is prepared to abandon her ' policy of pin- 
pricks,' as the Matin describes the series of petty 
injuries and insults which France in the last two 
years has inflicted upon England." 

Another article appeared in the Daily Mail two 
days later, which said, "The French Government is 
so enamoured of its policy of pin-pricks that it is 
now trying it upon Italy." 

Ten years after, in November 1908, this same paper 
had a paragraph headed " Suffragettes Disappointed," 
which describes an occasion on which there seems 
to have been some fear of a dangerous attack of pin- 
pricks in their literal sense, for the paragraph ends : 
" By order, it was understood, of Mr. (now Lord) 
Gladstone, women prisoners at Clerkenwell Sessions 
yesterday were allowed to appear in hats, but without 
hatpins." This speaks for itself, and it is sad to 
think that the precious pin is capable of becoming 
a really dangerous weapon ; but when we speak of 
hatpins and hatpin pricks, most of us are now only 
too well aware of the painful wounds which can be 
inflicted by them. Germany has not escaped the 
hatpin peril, and an interesting little article with 
the tragic title of " Deadly Hatpin — Heavy Casualty 
List in Berlin," appeared in the Daily Mail of 
17th December 1908. It is worth reading, and 
should help to free the world of this painful 


Deadly Hatpin 

heavy casualty list in berlin 

(Frojn our own correspondent) 

"Berlin, Friday. 

" A campaign against the murderous hatpin has 
been instituted by the newspapers of Berhn, in view 
of a series of accidents which have already occurred 
during the busy period of Christmas shopping. 

" Numbers of more or less serious injuries have 
been caused by these dangerous implements protrud- 
ing from the huge hats of fashionable ladies. Last 
Sunday a lady was permanently blinded in one eye 
when taking part in a rush at a ' bargain sale.' Two 
days later a lift attendant at a neighbouring shop had 
his face so badly injured that it was necessary to take 
him to a hospital. Many cases of scratched faces are 
reported from many quarters." 

The newspapers remind ladies that they are liable 
to punishment for wounds thus inflicted, and urges 
them to use guards on the points of their hatpins. 

The idea of guards for the points of hatpins is a 
very good one, but punishment should certainly be 
inflicted on those who wear these long weapons with 
exposed points. For " pin-pricks " are becoming 
more and more serious, and we now frequently find 
paragraphs referring to trouble with hatpins in any 
newspaper we happen to take up. 

It is difficult, in the absence of Dante, that greatest 
of experts in the invention of punishments, who, un- 
fortunately, died nearly 600 years ago, to know what 
to do with these sinners, or what punishment to hold 
over their heads. But a rift has appeared in this dark 


and dangerous cloud, for besides the urgent plea for 
guards set forth in the Berlin newspaper, we read in 
the Observer for Sunday, September 12, 1909, that 
M. Lepine, head of the Paris police, "... has been 
much moved by the number of accidents caused 
through the use of ladies' hatpins. Dagger-like points 
gleam from out the mass of furs and feathers, to the 
infinite danger of other people's eyes. The paternal 
Prefect let his wish to curtail this dangerous practice 
be known among his proteges, as a stimulus to their 
inventiveness. As a consequence, a large part of this 
pleasant exhibition (the Lepine Exhibition, held in 
the garden of the Tuileries every year for the en- 
couragement of the modest inventors and toymakers 
of Paris), of ' camelot ' genius, is devoted to women's 
hatpins of the safety order." 

Besides this, America has also realised that steps 
must be taken with regard to hatpins. The Paris 
Daily Mail, April 18, 1909, says, under the heading 
of " Bachelors, Babies, Hatpins, and Baths" — 

" According to a New York telegram, a Bill has 
been introduced into the Arkansas Legislature. It 
introduces some most curious laws now under considera- 
tion in different States. From Illinois : ' To limit the 
length of women's hatpins to nine inches, and make 
them take out permits for longer ones, just like all deadly 
weapons.' " So it seems that legislation as regards women 
and pins is as much required now as in the fifteenth 
century B.C. when, as will be remembered, the Athenian 
women of the day were deprived of their large pins, in 
consequence of the deadly use they made of them. 

Let us hope the kind encouragement so thought- 
fully given by M. Lepine and the new law from 
America will be copied by all nations who wear hat- 



pins, and thus (though Dante is dead and buried) an 
end may be put to this most dangerous practice. 

The other pin-pricks, the figurative ones, the " coups 
d'epingle," can, we fear, never be cured. Adam and 
Eve probably worried each other with them, and all 
human beings will continue to do so as long as the 
world exists. Pin-pricks of all kinds are therefore 
most dangerous things, and when Prevost-Paradol said, 
" Mille coups d'epingle peuvent donner la fievre aussi 
bien qu'une profonde blessure," he helped to confirm this 
danger. But whether the pricks are most dangerous 
in a figurative or in a literal sense we cannot say. 

Whilst searching for "pin-pricks " in various books, 
we found in M. Louis De Viel-Castels' Histoire de la 
Restauration that a secret society which existed in 
France in 1 8 1 7 formed a conspiracy against the 
Government of the " Restauration," which conspiracy 
was called the " Conspiration de I'epingle noire," 
because the conspirators wore, in some conspicuous 
place on their persons, a black pin as their sign or 
token. This adds to the importance of the pin, 
which is the aim of our work ; and so does the ex- 
pression, " Etre tire a quatre epingles, ' known to 
most of our readers, which means, to look very smart, 
as though just out of a bandbox. Another, not quite 
so well known, is " Tirer son epingle du jeu," to 
get out of a scrape, and is explained in a book of 
French idioms as " Une locution qui vient d'un jeu 
de petites fiUes ; elles mettent des epingles dans un 
rond, et avec une balle qui lancee contre le mur, 
revient vers le rond, elles essayaient d'en faire sortir 
les epingles : quand on fait sortir la mise, on dit 
qu'on retire son epingle du jeu." {^French Idioms and 
Proverbs^ M. de V. Payen-Payne.) 



*' Pricking her fingers with those cursed pins, 
Which surely were invented for our sins, — 
Making a woman like a porcupine. 
Not rashly to be touched." 

— Byron, Don Juan, canto vi. stanzas 6i, 62. 

"See a pin and pick it up, 
All the day you'll have good luck ; 
See a pin and let it lie, 
All the day you'll need to cry. 

" See a pin and let it lie, 
Sure to want before you die ; 
See a pin and let it lay, 
Will have ill-luck all the day." 

— Well-known rhyme in W ore ester shire 

" To see a pin and let it lie, 
You'll want a pin before you die." 

— W. Pengelly. 

" Needles and pins, needles and pins, 
When a man marries his trouble begins." 

— Author unknown. 

'* A penny saved is twopence dear ; 
A pin a day's a groat a year." 
-Franklin, Hints to those who Would he Rich. 

" See, a pin is there, 

A pin a day will fetch a groat a year." 

— King, Art of Cookery. 


" Not last night, but the night before, 
Three great monkeys knocked at my door ; 
I jumped up to let them in. 
They knocked me down with a tirling-pin." 

— Author Unknown. 

" Pin thy faith to no man's sleeve ; hast thou not 
two eyes of thy own ? " — Carlyle. 

In feudal times badges were worn, and the partisans 
of a leader used to wear his badge, which was pinned on 
the sleeve. Sometimes these badges were changed for 
specific purposes, and persons learnt to doubt. Hence 
the phrase, " You wear the badge, but I do not intend to 
pin my faith to your sleeve." 

"The baker jumped up with surprising agility; 
indeed he managed his pins capitally." 

— De Quincey, Miscellaneous Essays^ " On 


"He scratched the maid, he stole the cream, 
He tore her best lace pinner," 

— Prior's Tale of the Widow and her Cat. 

" Now as he scratched to fetch up thought 
Forth popped the sprite so thin ; 
And from the key-hole bolted out, 
All upright as a pin." 

— From " Sandy's Ghost,'' or '^ A Proper 
New Ballad in the New Ovid's 


"And I cleave the black pin in the midst of 
the white." 

— Middleton's No Wit like a Woman's^ 
Act ii. sc. I. 

" Kings are clouts that every man shoots at, 
Our crown the pin that thousands seek to cleave." 

— From " Tamhurlaine the Great.'" Play 
written by Christopher Marlowe. 

'* On the grass an odd dew-drop was glittering yet 
Like aunt's diamond pin on her green tabbinet ! " 

— Thomas Moore, The Fudge Family in Paris. 

" One single pin at night let loose 
The robes which veiled her beauty." 

— From the same. 

" If a toy-shop I step in 
He presents a diamond pin ; 
Sweetest token I can wear, 
Which at once may grace my hair." 

— Christopher Anstey, Nezu Bath Guide. 

" And first at her porcupine head he begins 
To fumble and poke with irons and pins." 

— From the same. 

" Here files of pins extend their shining rows, 
Puffs, powders, patches, Bibles, billet-doux." 

— Pope, The Rape of the Lock. 


" In a translated state then tries the town, 
With borrowed pins and patches not her own." 

— Pope, Macer : a Character. 

" Chains, coronets, pendans, bracelts, and earings ; 
Pins, girdles, spangles, embroideries, and rings ; 
Shadoes, rebaltoes, ribbands, ruffs, cufFs, fails, 
Scarfes, feathers, fans, masks, muffs, laces, cauls ; 
Thin tiffanies, cobweb lawn, and fardingals. 
Sweet fals, vayles, wimples, glasses, crisping pins ; 
Pots of ointment, combes, with poking sticks and 

Coyfes, gorgets, fringes, rowles, fillets, and hair-laces ; 
Silks, damasks, velvet, tinsels, cloth of gold, 
Of tissues with colours of a hundred fold." 

— " Rhodon and Iris,'' a flay first acted in May, 
1 63 1, gives this catalogue of the orna- 
ments of a lady of fashion. 

*' Pretty maids, pretty pins, pretty women." 

— One of the '^Street Cries of London'' about 
the beginning of the eighteenth century. 

" The carriage bowls along, and all are pleased 
If Tom be sober, and the wheels well greased ; 
But if the rogue have gone a cup too far, 
Left out his linch-pin, or forgot his tar. 
It suffers interruption and delay. 
And meets with hindrance in the smoothest way." 

— CowPER, The Progress of Errour. 

" A tattered apron hides. 
Worn as a cloak, and hardly hides, a gown 


More tattered still ; and both but ill conceal 

A bosom heaved with never ceasing sighs. 

She begs an idle pin of all she meets, 

And hoards them in her sleeve ; but needful food, 

Tho' pressed with hunger oft, or comelier clothes, 

Tho' pinched with cold, asks never — Kate is crazed." 

— CowPER, The Sofa. 

" Their larger minds despise the meaner sins : 
They strike with swords, they do not prick with 

Brave to the world, they face home trials ill — 
They eat the fruit and blame the woman still." 

— D. A. A. 

" Let her flaps fly behind her for a yard at the least. 
Let her curls meet just under her chin. 
Let these curls be supported to keep up the jest. 
With an hundred, instead of one pin." 

— " London Magazine,'' satirising the fashions 
^f ^111- From Chambers'' s ""Book of 
Days,'' vol. ii. page 47. 

"A cap like a hat 
(Which was once a cravat) 
Part gracefully plaited and pin'd is. 
Part struck upon gauze. 
Resembles macaws 
And all the fine birds of the Indies." 


— The New Bath Guide. 

" A lad when at school, one day stole a pin, 
And said that no harm was in such a small sin ; 


He next stole a knife, and said 'twas a trifle ; 
Next thing he did was pockets to rifle ; 
Next thing he did was a house to break in ; 
The next thing — upon a gallows to swing. 
So let us avoid all little sinnings, 
Since such is the end of petty beginnings." 

— " The Ranks in Life : for the Amusement and 
Instruction of Touth" J. Drury. From 
" Forgotten Children's Books,''' brought 
together by Mr. Andrew W . Tuer, 

" Miss and Her Pin." 
" My Knot and my Hood, 
It sticks in the Mode, 
My Kercher in Order it places ; 
It fixes my Ruffles 
And other Pantoffles, 
In their Plaits it keeps all my Laces." 

— ''''Songs for Little Misses^' from "' Ptierilia; 
or, Amusements for the Toung'' by 
John Marchant, Gent. London : P. 
Stevens, 1 7 5 1 • 

"Some pitch their tent-pole, and pin down the lines 
That stretch the o'er-awning canvas." 


" Pin a dish-clout to his tail." 
— Swift, Mays Letters to Dr. Sheridan. 

The Argument. 

"... Sin and death . . . resolve to sit no longer 
confined in hell, but to follow Satan their sire up to 


the place of man : to make the way easier from hell 
to this world to and fro, they pave a broad highway, 
or bridge, over Chaos, (and) 

"... with pins of adamant 
and chains they made all fast — " 

— Milton, Paradise Lost. Book X. 

" Why, I dared not name a sin 
In her presence : I went round. 
Clipped its name and shut it in 
Some mysterious crystal sound — 
Changed the dagger for the pin." 

— Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 
" Where s Agnes f' 

" Oh cousin, let us be content, in work 
To do the thing we can, and not presume 
To fret because it's little. 'Twill employ 
Seven men, they say, to make a perfect pin ; 
Who makes the head, content to miss the point, 
Who makes the point, agreed to leave the join : 
And if a man should cry, ' I want a pin. 
And I must make it straightway, head and point,' 
His wisdom is not worth the pin he wants. 
Seven men to a pin — and not a man too much ! " 

— E. B. Browning, Aurora Leigh. Book VIII. 

'* I do not set my life at a pin's fee." 

— Hamlet. Act. i. sc. 4. 

"Then will she get the upshot by cleaving the pin." 
— Loves Labour s Lost. Act iv. sc. i. 


" I would not care a pin, if the other three were in." 

— Ibid. Act iv. sc. 3. 

" And Nestor play at push-pin with the boys." 

— Ibid. Act iv. sc. 3. 

" This gallant pins the wenches on his sleeve." 

— Ibid. Act V. sc. 2. 

"... and all eyes blind 
With the pin and web." 

— Winter s Tale. Act i. sc. 2. 

" Pins and poking-sticks of steel, 
What maids lack from head to heel." 

— Ibid, Act iv. sc. 4. 

"... she lifted the princess from the earth, and 
so locks her in embracing, as if she would pin her to 
her heart." 

— Ibid. Act V. sc. 2. 

" Strike in their numb'd and mortified bare arms 
Pins, wooden pricks." 

— King Lear. Act ii. sc. 3. 

■*'... he gives the web and the pin " (meaning a 
malady of the eye). 

— Ibid. Act iii. sc. 4.- 

" Comes at the last, and with a little pin 
Bores through his castle-wall, and — farewell, 

— Richard II. Act iii. sc. 2. 


" My wretchedness unto a row of pins, 
They'll talk of state." 

— Ihid. Act iii. sc. 4. 

"... the very 
Pin of his heart " {i.e. the centre). 

— Romeo and Juliet. Act ii. sc. 4. 

". . , come, tell a pin : you are foresworn." 

— Troilus and Cressida. Act v. sc. 2. 

"... with hearts in their bellies no bigger than 
pins' heads." 

— Henry IF. Part I. Act iv. sc. 2. 

" Die men like dogs ! give crowns like pins ! " 
— Henry IV. Part II. Act ii. sc 4. 

"... for his apparel is built upon his back, 
and the whole frame stands upon pins." 

— Henry IV. Part II. Act iii. sc. 2. 

"... which show like pins' heads to her." 

—Henry IV. Part II. Act iv. sc. 3. 

"... but I'll make thee eat iron like an ostrich, 
and swallow my sword like a great pin, ere thou 
and I part." 

— Henry VI. Part II. Act iv. sc. 10, 

"... the kitchen maulkin pins 
Her richest lockram 'bout her reechy neck." 

— Coriolanus. Act ii. sc. i. 

" From a pound to a pin } " 
— Two Gentlemen of Verona. Act. i. sc. i. 


" A round hose, madam, now's not worth a pin." 
— Two Gentlemen of Verona. Act ii. sc. 7. 

" Tut, a pin ! this shall be answered." 
— Merry Wives of Windsor. Act. i. sc. i. 

" No matter for the dish, sir. No indeed, sir, 
not of a pin." 

— Measure for Measure. Act ii. sc. i . 

"... if you should need a pin, 
You could not with more tame a tongue desire it." 

— Measure for Measure. Act ii. sc. 2, 

" O, were it but my life, I'd throw it down for your 
As frankly as a pin." 

— Measure for Measure. Act iii. sc. i. 

"A rush, a hair, a drop of blood, a pin, a nut, 
a cherry stone." 

— Comedy of Errors. Act iv. sc. 3. 

" Scratch thee but with a pin, and there remains 
some scar of it." 

— As Tou Like It. Act iii. sc. 5. 

" Begin with needles and prines, and leave off with 
horse and horn'd nout." 

" Scotch proverb intimating that ' they who begin with 
pilfering and picking, will not stop there, but proceed to 
greater crimes.' " — Kelly. 


" For spleen indulged will banish rest, 
Far frae the bosoms of the best ; 
Thousands a year's no worth a prin, 
Whene'er this fashious guest gets in." 

— Allan Ramsay. 

"Prin up your aprons baith, and come away." 

— From the same. 

" No worth a prein-head." 

— <iAuthor Unknown. 

" My memory's no worth a preen ; 
I had amaist forgotten clean." 

— Postscript to a letter written by Robert Burns. 

" Donald Din, 
Built his house without a pin." 

— An Ayrshire rhyme, probably very old. 

" There stands a castle in the west. 
They ca' it Donald Din ; 
There's no a nail in a' its roof, 
Nor yet a wooden pin." 

The Historic arid Dessetit of the House of Rowallane : 
"... alluding to Dundonald Castle, the ancient seat of 
King Robert II., and now the last remaining property in 
Ayrshire of the noble family who take their title from it. 
According to tradition, it was built by a hero, Donald Din, 
or Din Donald, and constructed entirely of stone, without 
the use of wood. It is situated in Kyle-Stewart." 

— R. Chambers, Popular Rhymes of Scotland,. 


" Kate, wa'n't I such a one as he ? 
As like him, ay, as pin to pin." 

— R. Bloomfield, Richard and Kate. 

*' But, thought I, it is hard if I cannot stalk you, 
that have stalked so many bucks. If so, I had better 
give my shafts to be pudding pins." 

— Sir Walter Scott, Peveril of the Peak. 
Vol. i. p. 205. 

*' Mistress Deborah kept Julian waiting till she 
had prinked herself and pinned herself." 

— Ibid. Vol. i. p. 270. 

" I will not ride that great Holstein brute, that 
I must climb up to by a ladder, and then sit like a 
pincushion on an elephant." 

—Ibid. Vol. ii. p. 268. 

" After Mason has been attacked by the maniac 
(Mrs. Rochester, his sister), and wounded by her, he 
says to Rochester, ' She's done for me, I fear,' and 
Rochester replies, ' Not a whit ! courage ! This day 
fortnight you'll hardly be a pin the worse of it. ' " 

— Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre. 

" But old Benjy was young Master's real delight 
and refuge. ... A cheery, humorous, kind-hearted 
old man, full of sixty years of Vale gossip, and of 
all sorts of helpful ways for young and old, but 
above all for children. It was he who bent the first 
pin with which Tom extracted his first stickleback 


out of ' Pebbly Brook,' the little stream which ran 
through the village." 

— T. Hughes, Tom Brown s Schooldays. 

" Lizzie took wee Jeannie on her knee, and pro- 
ceeded to make the child as neat as a new pin." 

— J. J. B., Wee Macgreegor. 

"John's collar came loose, and the stud broke 
just at the critical moment when the photographer 
was about to take a family group. Lizzie looked up 
quickly, and whipped something from near her waist. 
'John,' she said, 'gang to the ither room, an' see if 
I left my caim on the table.' Her voice sank to a 
whisper, ' an' — an' — here twa preens.' " 

— From the same. 

" The widow Broddy by the slap, 
Wha sold the tartan preen-cods, 
By whisky maul'd, lay but her cap, 
Her head upon a green sod, 
Right sick that day." 

— Davidson's Seasons, ^'c, p. 78. 



" A pin-drop silence strikes o'er all the place." 

— Leigh Hunt, Ritnini, i. 244 (1816). 

The history of ancient and modern pins is indeed 
inexhaustible, and, like Tennyson's song of " The 
Brook," it might " go on for ever," for there are still 
many things we should wish to say about them. 
We will, however, confine ourselves to a few odds 
and ends, which have no particular place anywhere, 
yet cannot be left out, for they help to fill the 
niches and corners of our subject, just as those 
little Alpine plants, beloved of gardeners, fill the 
niches of a rock garden. First, we will beg the super- 
stitious to remember, if they truly love and value 
their pins and their friends, that when offering one to 
a friend it should be handed head first, as sharp and 
pointed things cut love ; this is very important. And, 
by-the-by, though what follows has nothing whatever 
to do with pins, useful information is always acceptable, 
and it would be unkind not to remind the superstitious 
that they must never tell their dreams fasting, and 
must always tell them first to a woman called Mary. 
Those who want money will be glad to know that if, 
by accident, they find the back tooth of a horse and 

carry it about with them as long as they live, they will 



never want money ; but the tooth must be found by 

We should perhaps mention the fact that pins, 
whatever they were in ancient times, are now more 
essentially of feminine use. It is true men wear 
scarf-pins and tie-pins ; these came into fashion a very 
long time ago, and a beautiful specimen of a gold and 
coral double pin connected by a gold chain and worn 
by John Frederick Sackville, third Duke of Dorset, 
is shewn in Illustration 2 (Plate X,), Some early 
portraits of Charles Dickens also exhibit two pins 
connected by a chain in his cravat, following the type 
of those used in the Bronze Age, of which we also 
give an illustration (Plates III. and IV.), Jewelled 
pins are still given by royal personages to officials as 
acknowledgment of service rendered. 

In some parts of England, about forty years ago, 
the dame of a school used to obtain silence in this 
way : she held up a pin and said, *' I want to hear this 
pin drop." Pier scholars listened and heard the pin 
drop upon the brick floor ; she would then proceed 
with what she had to tell them. 

Many of our readers are no doubt aware that at 
Monte Carlo those who play the game of " trente et 
quarante " are given a pin and a little card, upon 
which, with pricks, they keep count of their winnings 
and losses. 

It is not perhaps generally known that pins are 
very little used by the Chinese, strings, knots, and 
loops taking their place. Pin is also a term of Chinese 
diplomacy, signifying a petition or address from 
foreigners to the Emperor of China or any of his 
viceroys or deputies. 

Motorists, especially racers, must be well acquainted 



with those dangerous bends hi roads called " hairpin 
corners." There is a good example of these bends 
in the Elan Valley, North Wales, and another near 
Ramsey in the Isle of Man, 

We could give a long list of places with pin-names. 
In London we have Pinner's Alley in Shoreditch, 
Pin Alley, near Rosemary Lane, and Pinner's Court, 
Old Broad Street, where was originally Pinner's Hall, 
and where no pin-maker's foot-fall has been heard 
for many a long year. There is Pinner's Green in 
Essex ; Pin-hoe, near Exeter : a brook called the 
" Pin " runs through this parish, and Pin-hoe is 
generally understood to mean " the height of the pin." 
At Pinner in Middlesex there is also a Pin brook, 
but why these brooks were given the name, unless 
on account of their being very small, no one seems 
to know. 

A " pinner " is a woman's head-dress, and it also 
meant (anciently) a pounder of cattle, a man who 
puts cattle into a pound, a pound-keeper. 

Pinner was also an apron covering the front of 
the dress, formerly pinned on, now called a pina- 

It is possible that one of these may have had 
something to do with calling these places " Pinner." 
But the interpretation of place-names is a separate 
and most interesting study, which is not dealt with 
in this book. 

Some of these names are, however, quite easy 
to interpret. Pin Oak, U.S.A., for instance, must 
be named after a species of oak called pin-oak, which 
is found in North America. This oak is so called 
from its persistent dead branches, which resemble 
pins fixed on the trunk. 


Pinnock (Cornwall) would be named after the 
hedge-sparrow pin-ok. 

The pieces used for a game of chess used to 
be called chess-pins. " The king is the first and 
highest of all the chesse pins." (R. Holme, ^he 
zAcademy of <iArmoury^ vol. ii. book iii. chap. 16. 

A periwinkle is called a " pin-patch " because it 
is extracted from its shell with a pin. 

Pin-spotted materials have a number of small spots 
like pin-heads forming a pattern on them. 

Pin-striped materials have a very narrow line or 
stripe of the thickness of a pin. 

Pin-tucks are the smallest made and no wider 
than a pin. 

A pin-horse is the middle one of a team of three 

" Pins and needles " is a feeling of pricking under 
the skin: "on pins and needles," in a state of 
excessive uneasiness. " He had enough pins and 
needles in his feet to stock a haberdasher's shop." 
(Routledge's Every Boys Annual^ 640.) 

" On one's pins " means on one's legs, in good con- 

Pin-ball sight is a small bead sight. 

To " under-pin " is to insert masonry beneath a 
portion of wall that needs support. 

All our cooks use pudding-pins, and we must 
not forget that knitting-needles are sometimes called 
"pins." "As the old lady put down her pins, the 
princess took them up, and finished the stocking heel." 
{Tit-'Bits, 4th December 1897.) 

And quoting from " The Horkey," a Suffolk 
ballad, by Robert Bloomfield, we find knitting-pins 
again : — 


" Ah ! Judie Twicket ! though thou'rt dead, 
With thee the tale begins ; 
For still seems thrumming in my head 
The rattling of thy pins. 
Poor Judie ! Thus Time knits or spins 
The worsted from Life's ball ! 
Death stopt thy tales, and stopt thy pins, 
And so he'll serve us all." 

Horkey Is the Suffolk name for " harvest home." 
Judie Twicket was a real person who, whilst she 
knitted, related tales of the harvest home and other 

There are pins in musical instruments. 

Many ladies wear pin-curls, a little useful bunch 
of curls fastened to a hairpin, which can be bought 
for a few shillings. "She buys a 'pin-curl' and 
fastens it to her cycling hat." 

The Two Pins was the name of a play pro- 
duced at the Aldwych Theatre not long ago. At 
the same theatre, Pins, Feathers, and the Lady Elsa 
ran for a short time ; this was followed by The 
Pin and the Pudding. 

It is quite true that once upon a time, about sixty 
years ago perhaps, some Irish ladies of " high degree " 
used thorns for keeping their clothes together, and 
for various other purposes, to save buying pins, thus 
reverting to the original of all pins. They were not 
poor, but were looked upon as misers, and we think 
their mental condition must have been peculiar. 

The Irish for pin is " bioran," pronounced bir-aun. 
In Scotland it is " prein." The smallest of pins is 
called a " minikin prein," whilst the largest is de- 
nominated a " bodle prein." Minikin is anything 
that is small. In Welsh a pin is just a " pin," as in 


In the north of Scotland there is a superstition 
that all the pins which have been used in dressing a 
bride on her marriage day must be thrown away, as it 
would be unlucky to use them again. 

It was once the custom at Irish weddings for the 
bride to have two ribbons pinned in a cross at the 
back of her dress before going to church, and if she 
came back without them it was thought a good omen 
for her happiness. The bride's mother gave her a 
shilling before going to church, and the bridegroom's 
father gave him a five-shilling piece. These they hid 
in the stones on the hearth in their bedroom with a 
harrow-pin, thus burying their bad luck. A harrow 
is an agricultural implement set with a row of iron 
points called pins. 

And now it would seem our work is drawing to 
its close, for we must bring to the notice of our 
readers those final scenes connected with the end of 
human life which it is fitting should be kept to the 
last, and which appear also to have their peculiar 

In some parts of England there is still a prevailing 
idea that carrying a corpse across private property 
constitutes a right of way. A village undertaker 
once asked a tenant farmer during a flood to allow 
a corpse to be carried across his field to the church- 
yard. The farmer hesitated, for the reason above 
mentioned. But the undertaker promised to stick six 
black pins in the gate-posts of the fields through 
which the funeral would pass, and in this way the path 
remained private. Undoubtedly the pins were a fee 
and acknowledgment that permission was given as a 
favour for that occasion only. 

The pins employed for any purpose on a corpse 


are never used again, but are always deposited in the 
coffin and buried with the dead. " 

Therefore we feel the time has come to end this 
history of the " pin." We have followed its checkered 
career through many vicissitudes, and it has been 
our earnest endeavour throughout to verify all that 
has been said ; but, to use the words of Mr. Andrew 
Lang in his Magic and. Religion, the " perhapses," the 
" we may supposes," and the " we must infers " are 

But what more can we say to the glory of the pin ? 
Have we proved that it is not the insignificant thing 
many suppose it to be — that there is hardly any- 
thing more valuable, nothing we make more constant 
use of, nothing we should miss more were pins to 
become extinct, and nothing to which we give less 
thought ? We have proved it to be one of the oldest 
things in the world ; it is of interest to the most 
learned and scientific scholars, and there is not a 
human being, young or old, rich or poor, who does 
not know what a pin is. It cannot be dispensed with 
at the beginning of life ; is one of the first things 
required when a child is born into the world ; it is also 
used at every burial, and it would be impossible even 
to imagine the many millions of times a pin is used 
between birth and death. Without it, existence would 
be very difficult ; in fact, almost impossible, at any rate 
to women ; we do not think that is saying too much. 
There is, however, one thing about them of which, 
with the deepest regret, we must confess to know 
nothing, one secret they hold which we cannot guess, 
one question that no one in the whole world can 
answer. And you, dear reader, who have followed us 
thus far so patiently, listen whilst we whisper it in your 


ear, " Where do all the lost pins go to ? " — the millions 
and millions of pins that disappear each day and hour 
and minute of our lives from the humblest cottages 
and the most magnificent palaces. They vanish, we 
know not how, we know not whither, and all the 
cleverest and most curious people in the world have 
never yet been able to discover what becomes of them. 
It was said more than fifty years ago that if pins 
continued to be lost as they were then, some day or 
other the whole world would be found to be one vast 
mass of pins. That day has not yet arrived, and as 
pins continue to vanish in larger quantities than ever, 
we must look for some other solution of their ulti- 
mate fate. M 'Donald Clarke gives us a rather charming 
idea in some lines which thus describe the closing 
day — 

" Now twilight lets her curtain down, 
And pins it with a star." 

Is there, then, perhaps a paradise for pins, into which 
they pass when lost or mislaid, and where they are 
transformed into stars ? A great number would be 
necessary to pin down twilight's curtain, and when 

"... one more day 
Drops in the shadowy gulf of bygone things " 

many more would be required to fasten the darker 
and deeper one of night. 

Still the question is unanswered, still the mystery 
of lost pins remains ; it is therefore with reluctance 
we leave the subject, for our task is but imperfectly 
performed. We have, however, proved the ancient 
origin of the pin, and traced its glorious history to 
the best of our ability from the original thorn which 


fastened the skin coverings of our prehistoric fore- 
fathers, and was followed by the pins made of bone, 
bronze, gold, silver, brass, and iron, to the present 
modern steel pin. If we have also touched it with 
the spirit of romance, and crowned it with greater 
importance, then our labour will not have been in 



" Thou art a retailer of Phrases, and dost deal in Remnants of 
Remnants, like a maker of Pincushions." — Congreve's M^^ay of the 

We must now turn our thoughts to the various 
ways which have existed at different times for keeping 
or storing pins. It is " a far cry " from the days 
when those ladies who dwelt in caves and gathered 
thorns, or made pins from the fibulae of animals with 
which to fasten their clothing, to the present time 
when hardly any room is thought completely furnished 
without a pincushion of some kind at hand, well 
stocked with all kinds of pins. The wardrobe of 
ladies in those early days was no doubt very limited, 
and probably the pins were seldom removed, but if 
any emergency arose to oblige their doing so, the 
floor of the cave would surely have made as good 
a pincushion as the occasion demanded. Many hun- 
dreds of years must have passed away before any real 
way of storing pins was dreamt of, and even at the 
present day in some parts of the world where thorns 
are still used as pins, there is most likely no way of 
keeping them except stuck in the dress itself. That 
this way of keeping pins still exists, we all know, 
especially those who employ a certain class of dress- 
maker called always a "clever little woman," though 
sometimes six feet high and two yards round the 

waist ! The " little woman " also stores pins in her 



mouth, which reminds us of Miss Edgeworth's tale 
of a governess, looked upon by her pupils as the 
essence of politeness and elegance, until one day in 
an unguarded moment when arranging her pupil's sash 
she put several pins into her mouth, thus revealing 
her origin as a dressmaker, for no other woman in 
those days of ultra-refinement ever did this. But we 
are digressing. 

We have said that many hundreds of years passed 
away before any real way of storing pins was even 
dreamt of; many more must have passed before they 
began to take even the shadow of their present place 
in society, and it took a still longer period to make 
them inexpensive and plentiful. It was therefore first 
of all their great value that made it necessary to 
preserve them so carefully. An interesting article by 
Mrs. Head on " Some Old-fashioned Pincushions," 
which appeared in the Queen of March 7, 1903, 
throws some light on this point, and says : "... in 
those early days when pins of metal were costly and 
much-prized possessions, they were doubtless kept 
in some less insecure receptacle than an uncovered 
pincushion, and therefore the pin-box is probably a 
far less recent invention than the pincushion." Mrs. 
Head's idea must be correct, and many of the silver 
boxes of ancient date that now stand amongst a 
host of other articles on a table set apart for them 
in our drawing-rooms, may very likely have begun 
life as pin-boxes. We also find at a later date that 
our grandmothers carried in their pockets small metal 
or wooden cases called pin-poppets, which, though 
not exactly boxes, had lids and were both safe and 
convenient. They held needles as well as pins, but 
were invariably called pzw-poppets. The metal one 


Wuoden I'in-poppet. 
Actual size. 

I. Metal rin-poppet. 
Actual size. 

3. Wooden Pin-poppet. 
Actual size. 














^^■K ~'f%..,,^ 

A. A 







4. Ivory I'in-l)ox. 
Actual size. 


(Plate XXV., Illustration i) is embossed all round, and 
has a hinged lid ; the workmanship, though somewhat 
rude, has a certain quaint beauty of its own. Those 
of wood are in two parts, which fit together, as is 
plainly shewn in Plate XXV., Illustrations 2 and 3. 

The little ivory box (Plate XXV., Illustration 4) is 
of a later date, and holds only a few pins. It is impos- 
sible to speak with any certainty of the age of the pin- 
poppets ; they may have been in use long before our 
grandmothers' time, and we may reasonably suppose 
that boxes or cases of some kind in metal or wood 
were employed for keeping pins before the reign of 
Queen Elizabeth (this being the date of the earliest 
pincushion we illustrate), for are we not told that in 
1347, 12,000 pins were delivered from the royal ward- 
robe for the use of Princess Joan of France .? and it 
will be remembered that in Chapter I., referring to the 
household accounts of Katherine, Countess of Devon, 
in 1524, a "pin-case, i6d. " is mentioned amongst 
other " necessaries for my lady." 

It is however, very difficult to trace the origin 
of pincushions, and a woman's bodice was no doubt 
one of its earliest and favourite forms, for this con- 
venient way of keeping pins probably existed in very 
primitive times. Pillows and cushions are also fre- 
quently mentioned in the Bible, and perhaps pin- 
cushions may have had their origin in the pillow, made 
smaller ; although the idea of doing this, and adapting 
the smaller pillow or cushion for pins, may not have 
occurred to any one till pins became plentiful and 
were made in small sizes. 

In confirmation of this we find that in the sixteenth 
and seventeenth centuries pincushions were called pin- 
pillows — " pyn-pyllows to stycke pynncs on," 1588; 


" pinpIUowe's of cloth for children" in 1622. And 
in 1650 we hear that "they of S. Christopher's stick 
pins on their noses, making their noses serve for pin- 
pillows " ! The inhabitants of S. Christopher were no 
doubt singular in many of their customs, and this way 
of keeping pins is certainly unique ; handy perhaps, 
but painful, and very awkward with a cold in the head. 
We have already said that our search for pin- 
cushions takes us back to the reign of Queen 
Elizabeth ; these early pincushions were of course 
treated with much respect and consideration, for they 
were of great value, not only because of the pins they 
held, but on account of the exquisite needlework with 
which they were adorned. In many of them the work 
is faded and worn, but enough remains to test its 
original excellence, and here and there we find one of 
exceptional beauty — a picture indeed, painted in silks 
with a needle. They were all of them too big for 
the pocket, so doubtless the pin-poppets were carried 
about long after pincushions were made, whilst the pin- 
cushions themselves may have spent much of their 
time in strict retirement, carefully preserved under lock 
and key, to be brought out only on special occasions 
when some elaborate toilet of their owner's required 
the pins they held. It is quite likely that only a few 
precious or jewelled pins were kept in these larger 
and more elaborately worked pincushions, and this may 
explain the absence of pin marks in many of them. 
There seems to have been no great change in the shape 
of pincushions for nearly 200 years after the reign of 
Elizabeth. They were till then, with a few exceptions, 
square or oblong, thick or thin, according to taste; 
some had tassels at each corner, and some an edging 
of silver lace or cord. Great variety was, however, 


shewn in the work of their decoration, which combined 
great beauty of execution with richness and variety of 
colour and design. 

In the late part of the seventeenth century we find 
a round pincushion for suspension from the girdle 
covered with silver thread and mounted in silver, 
which is a great change from the old form, and another 
decorated with pins instead of needlework is dated 

Knitted pincushions, mostly round, came in about 
the middle of the eighteenth century, but the spirit of 
caprice did not really touch these articles till the 
beginning of the nineteenth century, and from then 
till now has pursued its fantastic progress until there 
is scarcely anything a pincushion has not been made 
to represent. 

Some of these old pincushions were stuffed with 
waste bits of rag ; small pieces of flannel have also 
been much used, and are still used occasionally ; others 
were filled with sand. The heavy pincushions were 
used for pinning work to, work which had to be 
stretched while it was done, otherwise ladies pinned 
their work to their knees. We might just as well 
inform our readers that " Queen Anne is dead " as 
tell them that pincushions are now usually stuffed 
with bran, and yet their history can hardly be com- 
plete without some mention of that most valuable 
commodity. Mrs. Head, in the article to which we 
have already referred, goes on to say that ". . . the 
cult of the pincushion, if I may call it so, certainly 
reached its zenith in early Victorian days, when bazaars 
first came into vogue, bazaars whereat every stall was 
devoted to ' fancy work,' and every bit of this ' fancy 
work ' was made at home. Under such conditions 


it was natural that the pincushion — easy to manu- 
facture out of the merest scraps, pretty to look at, 
and not absolutely useless — always occupied a con- 
spicuous place among the stock of dainty trifles, and 
so our grandmothers came to develop a perfect genius 
for making it in every possible form. They contrived 
the tiniest of cushions for the pocket, the smartest of 
box-cushions for the dressing-table, the biggest and 
most commodious for the workroom ; and even the 
kitchen was supplied with one, a favourite type for 
the latter situation being a gigantic heart or diamond, 
covered with blue or purple merino, or with multi- 
coloured patchwork, and edged with a ruche of scarlet 
braid." This covers a considerable amount of ground 
concerning pincushions of that period when the bazaar 
or fancy fair began to wield its fatal spell over the 
world in general. That it still continues to do so we 
all know to our cost. Perhaps some of our readers 
may have come across a charmingly old-fashioned 
book called Treasures of Needlework, published about 
i860, but for the benefit of those who have not had 
this privilege, we give here its full title and dedication. 

" Treasures of Needlework. By Mrs. Warren and 
Mrs. PuUen, illustrated with useful and ornamental 
designs, patterns, &c. To Lady Needleworkers 
throughout the world this Book is dedicated by 
the Authors, in the hope that it may aid in the pro- 
duction of those Ornamental and Useful Articles that 
add Elegance to the Boudoir, and Yield Profit to the 
Fancy Fair." 

Could anything be more exquisitely refined } It 
makes one long to dip into this volume, and we 
will do so without delay. A " pendant pincushion 
in application " is thus described : " This toilet- 


cushion is in a style which is new, even on the Conti- 
nent, and has never yet been introduced into this 
country." Another " toilet-cushion " (designed by 
Mrs. Warren) is said to be in crochet entirely, and 
the word " fins " is cleverly and elegantly worked into 
the centre ; it is oblong shaped. Mrs. Pullen describes 
another pincushion which is also decorated with 
crochet, and there is a beautiful picture of it in the 
book. It is round, and in the centre is a round hole 
into which is placed what Mrs. Pullen calls a " hand- 
some toilet-bottle," though she adds, " a small vase 
of flowers looks equally well." We can some of us 
remember a toilet-cushion of this kind in the best 
spare bedrooms of our maiden aunts or old-fashioned 
friends, and how we gazed with almost sacred awe 
upon that central vase of flowers, wondering in our 
youthful hearts what kind of guest could be thought 
worthy of so exquisite a toilet-cushion. 

A few years ago we remember that a friend had 
a stall at a bazaar in the country, which consisted of 
pincushions entirely. Many months were spent in 
making and collecting everything that imagination 
could devise or fertile brains conceive in the way 
of pincushions. Mrs. Warren's and Mrs. Pullen's 
''treasures" would have been an invaluable assistance 
on this occasion, but unfortunately at that time we 
were not acquainted with these ladies or their book. 
If all the pincushions set out on this stall were sold, 
each house in that country town where the bazaar was 
held must still be well stocked with them. Some were 
very curious, and we remember one in particular which 
was much observed and talked of. It was sent from 
the East End of London (we think it was made by a 
cabman, or perhaps his wife). It was beautiful to 


behold, and much decorated with beads ; there were 
two, or perhaps three pins in it, but not more. The 
reason of this was soon discovered. The pins could 
only be put in with a hammer, and it was quite 
impossible to take them out except with a pair of 
pincers ! Heaven only knows what it was stuffed 
with, probably bits of old cabs. We believe that it 
found its way into a local museum, with a hammer 
and a pair of pincers, and a charge of one penny made 
for putting in a pin or taking one out. We do not 
recollect ever to have heard of a quite similar pin- 
cushion " even on the Continent," but a great many 
are now made merely to attract the eye, and though 
not stuffed with wood, the pincushion itself is often of 
the poorest, and seemingly the last thing thought of. 
Every imaginable thing is represented, and towards 
Christmas the shops seem to vie with each other in 
making pincushions of the most grotesque and unsuit- 
able forms. But people's tastes vary, and the public 
must be pleased. What one person considers frightful 
will be treasured as a work of art by another, and who 
can say which has the better taste. One thing is 
certain, the pincushion is far too valuable an article 
ever to go out of fashion. We may have to endure 
it in the shape of an airship flapping about our rooms, 
or in some other form equally unpleasant and unsuit- 
able, but have it we must ; the cry for a pin, at any 
and every hour of the day or night, is one that must 
be answered. The pincushion is indispensable. Small 
wonder, then, that new forms are constantly invented, 
the demand being so great. We quite recognise the 
necessity and charm of novelty, but those who wish 
to escape from a too advanced form in pincushions 
must turn back into the past and copy the old ones. 


Then we shall find something upon which our eyes 
can rest with pleasure, and learn that even a pin- 
cushion may be "a thing of beauty and a joy for 

Many beautiful pincushions are still made, but 
the most beautiful always take the simple form of those 
used in olden days. But though simple in form they 
are often elaborately decorated with graceful designs in 
needlework, and the effect is one of great beauty. As a 
rule they have been carefully and kindly dealt with, but 
we sometimes find the materials of which they are con- 
structed fast wearing out, and in many the colours have 
long ago faded into shades so delicate it would be impos- 
sible to describe. But if the touch of a magic wand 
could restore them to their pristine brilliance and at the 
same time give some of these old pincushions the gift 
of speech, what interesting and romantic tales might 
be unfolded to us — tales that would carry us back 
into that golden age we call the " past," over which 
it is so customary to mourn. Then, perhaps, when 
the day is over and the night of pleasure about to 
begin, we might close our eyes and see in a vision 
some dainty maiden at her toilet, pausing a moment 
to enjoy the happy dreams of anticipation, the while 
she toys with the pins upon her cushion. Each pin 
is listening to the beatings of her heart, and learning 
all its secrets from the little sighs, the smiles, and 
perhaps the tears that are dropped upon it. Each 
one hopes to be chosen to fasten her only ornament, 
a deep red rose, to the bosom of her dress, and to 
rest there for all that happy evening. And then, when 
at last the maiden returns flushed and tired from the 
dance, the pin, safe back in the cushion, will tell the 
other pins how the evening has been spent, and of 



the gallant youth who was ever at the maiden's side. 
And sometimes when, her features touched by some 
transfiguring fire, the maiden's thoughts are too far 
off to be disturbed, the pins chatter quite loud — 
for pins — and that perhaps is how the pincushions 
learn all about their owners, and why they are so 

Let us now turn Plate XXVI., which is called 
" A pincushion of Elizabeth." The work is ex- 
quisite, representing in long and short stitches the 
woman of Samaria in the centre, and David play- 
ing upon the harp at the top on the right. We 
wish it were possible to tell our readers what vanished 
hands traced these figures, and the flowers, birds, and 
insects which also appear upon this pincushion. 
Queen Elizabeth herself excelled in needlework ; it 
was one of the resources with which she whiled away 
many weary hours of her imprisonment at Woodstock, 
and history relates that at the age of six she presented 
her brother Edward with a shirt of cambric of her 
own work. Luxurious, vain, and pleasure-loving, 
she had an inordinate love of dress, jewels, and every 
kind of finery, and was much displeased if the ladies 
of her court wore dresses finer than her own. She 
would be sure to have had a beautiful pincushion, 
and if this one is not her handiwork it may well have 
been one of her cherished possessions, and then what 
tales of this great queen a romantic pin could 
weave ! 

Queen Elizabeth had an ungovernable and over- 
bearing temper, and is said to have boxed the ears of her 
favourites and to have sworn at her ministers " like a 
fish-wife," but she worked hard for the good of her 
country, and had much sympathy with her people ; 



and if sometimes unhappy memories filled her heart 
with remorse, and the floodgates of her confidence 
were only opened in the privacy of her own apart- 
ment with the silence of the night around her, 
the pins upon her cushion can alone have heard them. 
They alone can have seen this queen with the 
barriers of her great position swept away, revealing 
a woman who, though emotionally cold, had learnt 
from the severe teaching of experience that love, 
trust, and confidence are all beset with dangers, 
and that a queen, however great, must stand alone. 
The pins, erect upon the royal cushion, watched 
and listened, we may be sure ; and afterwards, 
how they must have talked ! and to some purpose, 
especially a few that perhaps got lost, and, wan- 
dering into the pincushions of writers of history, 
there continued to discourse. How otherwise could 
we possibly know so much about " Good Queen 

Plate XXVII., Illustration i, though of the same 
period, is in striking contrast to Plate XXVI. The sim- 
plicity of the design, which repeats itself in graceful 
curves, is very restful to the eye ; and though worked on 
linen, threads of silver and an edging of serrated silver 
thread lace give to it, even after the lapse of years, a 
bright and gay appearance. The design consists of con- 
tinuous scrolling stems bearing leaves, flowers (including 
columbines, pinks, &c.), and fruits (strawberries, peas, 
acorns, &c.). On each strawberry a bee is perched. 
The stems are worked in looped gilt thread stitched 
down with green ; the flowers, fruit, and leaves with 
silver and silver-gilt thread worked over with bright 
colours. Parts of the cushion are not worked, or 
are only outlined, and the design can be seen drawn 


on the linen. These are the only two pincushions 
we have found belonging to the sixteenth century. 
In the seventeenth century we begin with a Jacobean 
pincushion (Plate XXVII., Illustration 2), covered 
with canvas, embroidered with coloured silks chiefly 
in tent and cross stitches, and with silver thread in 
short and chain stitches ; panels of various devices 
appear on each side of the cushion, in the manner of 
samplers — in one panel is a lady with a ruff, and high 
puffed sleeves, hooped skirt, and a feather fan ; in other 
panels we find lions and unicorns, roses, fleur-de-lys ; 
clasped hands with olive branches, animals, love- 
knots ; and the letters I and R (James Rex) royally 

Illustration 3, Plate XXVII., has the marks of pins 
on both sides, but the pins themselves seem to have 
joined that invisible army of lost pins which is one of 
the puzzles of the world. This pincushion is oblong, 
and one side of it is embroidered in diamond diaper 
stitch, in various colours ; the reverse side has bands of 
chevron ornamentation in the same colours. There are 
tassels at each corner. 

Illustration 4 on the same plate contains treasures 
that have been well guarded by succeeding generations 
of owners. The bag and pincushion are of canvas, em- 
broidered in coloured silks and silver-gilt thread on a 
silver thread ground. The bag has a flowering tree on 
each side, and the pincushion has a symmetrical floral 
device. The two are united by a cord of plaited silk 
with tassels, and were apparently worn round the waist 
in the fashion of a girdle. Imagination supplies a 
list of interesting articles that may at different times 
have rested in the dainty little bag — fans, scents, 
pomades, and billet-doux no doubt, and later on between 






w *'. i' ^<* vV-^^ JK . /^r"'"^.-^^' *!. ff^ i'-)!''- ^Sft^-i'jfli, -^ _5*1^ 


;^- '■'(^■0 ^^^ '-^_ "H^ WW 

I. Pincushion of the time of <^)ueen Elizabeth. 
(Size, 9 in. X 6 in.) 

2. Jacobean Pincusliion. (Size, 1 1 in. x S in. 

3. Oblong Pincushion of Canvas. (Knglish.) 

(Size, 6i in. x 5.I in.) 

17/A century. 

4. llai; .uul l'ini'u>hion of ( 'anva^ 


(Size, 2 in. X 2 in.) 

17/// century. 


I. Canvas Pincushion embroidered in Coloured Silks. 
(English. Size. lo in. X 5;} in.) 

17/// ccntiDj. 

2. I'incushion decorated with Tins, with date 1652. 
(English. Size, 13 in. x 92 in.) 

3. Spangled I'incushion from Knole. 

(Size, II in. X 75- in.) 



them the bag and cushion may perhaps have held 
some of 

" The powders, patches, and the pins, 
The ribbons, jewels, and the rings. 
The lace, the paint, and warlike things, 
That made up all their magazines." 

— Cowley. 

Wonderful needlework is displayed in Plate 
XXVIII. , Illustration i, a canvas pincushion em- 
broidered in coloured silk on a silver thread ground. 
Each flower is perfect : here is the rose, the thistle, 
and the lily, and the old-fashioned pink, whilst the 
caterpillar and the snail are cleverly introduced, as 
well as that most attractive little animal the squirrel, 
with a truly magnificent tail. Bright birds hover 
here and there, and the whole design twines itself 
in perfect order about the cushion. Illustration 2, 
Plate XXVIII., is dated 1652, and the decoration all 
made with the pins of the period. This is the earliest 
example of the kind we have come across ; it is 
made of satin, probably once pink, but now much 
faded. Nature is most cleverly imitated with the 
round-headed pins of different sizes which trace the 
entire design, giving an effect scarcely less beautiful 
than embroidery. This kind of pincushion was made 
for presentation, to celebrate a birthday or a wedding, 
and the initials " A. E." are no doubt those of the 
fortunate person to whom this one was given. It 
appears to have been handed down with the pins still 
in their original places, and not one missing. This 
tells a tale of stately dames in whose lives there was 
no unseemly rush — plenty of time for the most elabo- 
rate toilet, plenty of time to take a pin carefully out 
of the design on the pincushion and to put it back 


into its right hole if it proved not quite the size 
required. How different to the hurried way in which 
we now snatch a pin from one of our numerous 
cushions to cover some deficiency in our dress ; and 
if one pin is too big, or too little, how carelessly we 
throw it aside and seize another, for there is not time 
to fetch a needle as we rush through life. 

An illustration of the spangled pincushion which 
belonged about 1680 to Charles Sackville, sixth Earl of 
Dorset, and was made for the spangled bedroom at 
Knole, is given in Plate XXVIII., Illustration 3. The 
furniture and bed in this room were given by King 
James the First, and are covered with red silk orna- 
mented with gold thread and silver spangles. The 
pincushion is made of white satin, much faded and 
sadly frayed, showing the white cotton-wool with 
which it is stuffed. A coronet formed of steel beads 
and spangles, with the initials " C. D." (Charles, sixth 
Earl of Dorset), form the central decoration, and there 
is on either side of these a device in spangles represent- 
ing a true lover's knot. The spangles are pale green, 
but it is impossible to say if that was their original 
colour. A gilt fringe, now very much tarnished, sur- 
rounds the cushion, with tassels of the same at each 

Plate XXIX. shews a magnificent pincushion of the 
time of Charles II., and, for all we know to the contrary, 
may have been used in one of the royal palaces of that 
" Merry Monarch." It is embroidered in coloured 
silks and silver purl on white satin, and the more con- 
ventional design compared with that of Queen Eliza- 
beth's time claims attention. 

In Plate XXX., Illustrations i and 2, we find a 
most curious accessory to the work-table, made use 



I. Carved Bone Cotton-winder and 
Pincushion combined, of the time 
of William and Mary. (Height, 
th in. ; depth, 2j in.) 

2. Carved Bone Cotton-winder and Tin- 
cushion combined, of the time of 
William and Mary. (Width, 3-i in.) 

Round I'incushion for sus- 
pension from the girdle. 
(Diameter, ij in.) 

LaU ijt/i century. 


of by ladies in the reign of William and Mary, and 
called by its present owner " a cotton-winder and 
pincushion combined." The pincushions, of which not 
a vestige remains, were placed on the top of the three 
pedestals, and the figures on each side of the centre 
figure unscrew at the waist, shewing receptacles for 
needles, bodkins, &c. Between the centre and side 
figures in the cross-piece, which appears to hold the 
three together, are holes which may have held scissors ; 
and at the back of the centre figure there is a place 
possibly also meant for scissors. The winders appear 
between the pincushions, and the whole when fastened 
to the table by a screw at the back must have been 
very handy. 

There is a design behind and above the head of the 
centre figure, with a cross at the top of it. It is not a 
monogram, but more in the nature of a crown. The 
whole is made of bone, the three figures being more 
polished than the rest, and of a rather deeper yellow 

A pretty little round pincushion for suspension 
from the girdle is shewn in Plate XXX., Illustration 3, 
and also belongs to the time of William and Mary, 
It is covered with silver thread and green silk, and 
mounted in silver. 

In the eighteenth century the Jacobite pincushions 
are of greater interest than any, for the stirring events 
of 1745 form an exciting chapter in history, and a 
halo of romantic enthusiasm surrounds everything con- 
nected with Prince Charlie. How many rousing tales 
have been drawn from the career of this young Prince 1 
Sir Walter Scott himself tells us, in his introduc- 
tion to fVaverley, that that novel is founded upon an 
incident which took place on the morning of the battle 


of Prestonpans ; he also makes his hero, Edward 
Waverley, in speakingof Prince Charlie, use these words, 
" A Prince to live and die for." Endless poems and 
ballads also take for their theme some daring deed, some 
scene of strife or perilous adventure connected with 
the Prince's cause. These ballads graphically describe 
the turbulent times with which their authors were 
surrounded ; for, from the moment Prince Charlie 
raised his standard in Glenfinnan on August 19, 1745, 
till he was defeated and the remnants of his army dis- 
persed in the following April at Culloden, his passage 
through Scotland and England provided a series of 
subjects to the poets and minstrels of those days, which 
their environments and training peculiarly fitted them 
to express in song. The young Prince had a charming 
appearance and pleasing manner, gave many proofs of 
good nature, and was capable of facing danger and 
aspiring to fame. These qualities fired the ardour of 
many faithful friends and followers who braved death 
and ruin for his sake. It is well known to this day 
that the " yellow-haired laddie " was very popular 
with ladies, especially with the ladies of Lancashire, 
who seem to have completely lost their hearts to him 
as he marched with his army through that country. 
These ladies boldly appeared in the streets of Man- 
chester wearing gowns of Scottish tartans and plaids. 
The gentlemen also sported tartan waistcoats, whilst 
garters, watch-strings, and pincushions gave expression 
to their feelings and bore the motto, " God bless P. C, 
and down with the Rump." Hibbert Ware's History 
of the Foundation of Manchester provides some in- 
teresting and amusing details of this period, which 
show that the Whigs becoming intolerant of all these 
proceedings, meditated putting the dress and manners 


1. Prince Charlie Pincushion. Size, 3i in.x 2^ in. 

2. Prince Charlie Pincushion. 


of the town under the supervision of the police. This 
gave rise to some humorous hints to the magistrates 
on the part of the Jacobites, who advised ". . . that 
a select committee be appointed . . . who have given 
undeniable proofs of an honest zeal by their regular 
attendance at bonfires, prosecution of ' Down with the 
Rumpers', &c. The manufacture committee shall 
from time to time visit our warehouses, inspect the 
goods, and severely punish such persons as shall be 
found to have any which emblematically favour Popery 
or the Pretender, such as your plaided -chequered gowns, 
&c., which virtually imply the wearers' approbation 
of the Scotch Rebellion and the Church of Rome, of 
which the chris-cross work is a known type or figure. 
As for your pincushion makers, I think they should be 
rigorously chastised, and their works publicly burned, 
let the pretty misses cry as loud as they will. It is a 
monstrous shame that such an ancient necessary ap- 
pendage to the ladies' toilet should be thus Jacobitised 
and transformed from its primitive use into a variegated 
tool of faction and sedition." Thus we find the pin- 
cushion takes its part in the making of history, and 
at once receives a more important position as having 
become the innocent cause of much discussion between 
contending parties. We are pleased to have secured 
one of these Prince Charlie pincushions (Plate XXXI., 
Illustrations i and 2). It is woven in three colours 
— blue, yellow, and green — and has a woven band 
round it. On the band are the words " God bless 
P. C," and on the pincushion itself we find on one 
side the words '* Down with," and on the other 
" The Rump." 

Where these pincushions were made, and by whom, 
must be a matter of conjecture ; for, being woven, 


an English loom can hardly have produced them, for 
they would then have been looked upon as evidence of 
rank treason. It is thought possible they came from 
France, and found their way via Scotland to Man- 
chester and other places. The pincushions were at- 
tached to a suspender, by which they must have been 
hung to a lady's girdle, and worn as a chatelaine, and 
it is said that many a pretty girl learnt to read "God 
bless Prince Charlie " upon her pincushion before she 
could say her catechism. After the battle of Culloden 
the bitterness of defeat filled the hearts of the Jaco- 
bites, but at the same time inspired them with a noble 
determination to submit to their fate and make the 
best of their altered circumstances. Again, their 
deepest feelings were expressed in songs and ballads, 
but these struck a sadder note, and we learn from the 
strains of forgotten minstrels how heavy with sorrow 
the hearts of the Jacobites were at this time. The 
pincushion, too, had its part to play in these sad scenes, 
and a touching romance is attached to the one repre- 
sented in Plates XXXII. and XXXIII., for it bears the 
names of those who lost their lives for having taken 
part in the Jacobite rising. 

This pincushion is of cream satin printed in 
dark blue, with four rows of the names of men who 
died for Prince Charlie and the Jacobite cause. 
These are arranged on four circles round a central 
space which is printed with an outlined con- 
ventional rose. Round this rose are the words 
" Mart, for K. and cou." (Martyr'd for King and 
country), and the date 1746. On the obverse side 
are the names of the leaders and generals (Kilmarnock, 
Derwentwater, Lovat, and Balmerino, &c.), as well as 
those of the men. On the reverse side are seen those 


59A. jacohilc I'incusliion sliewiiijj tlic namus of the Leaders. Generals, 
and Men wlio died for Prince Charlie and the lacohite cause. 

(Size, 3J in. X3 in.) 


■i?^ j/.-s,- <r„:.:, ,rr\\«ia 


'I LI , _ >tA.>«' 

59H. facobilc I'incushion shewing llic n;iincs of llic lvsc|iiircs and Captains 
who died for Prince Charlie and the Jacobite cause. 


of the esquires and captains. The tassels at the four 
corners are dark blue. 

Another of these interesting relics, similar to that 
shewn in Plates XXXII. and XXXIIL, but, alas, in the 
last stage of decay, was found in repairing the oak- 
room at Bampton Deanery House, Oxon, together 
with a deal box containing a hen's egg, upon which 
was written, " God bless King James III." Inside the 
box was also a paper inscribed, " I put this in with 
a designe not to oppen itt till King James comes to 
the crowne, and I will cape my word itt is a hen's 
egge, and some of Martha Frederick's haire and her 
Mother's haire in this Box. I will for ever stick to 
my principles. I will ever honour my King as long 
as I iive. Martha Frederick." On the back of the 
paper was v/ritten,"Do not open this peaper for fere 
of yr, eyes, for it will blind you " ; and on the lid 
of the box, " It is a forfit to open this box, for it is 
congering in it and will eat out yr. eyes." It appears 
that Bampton Deanery House was at one time the 
residence of two old maiden ladies named Frederick, 
who left it, towards the close of the eighteenth century, 
to their kinsman, Edward Frederic Whitaker, Esq. 
The Whitaker family is now extinct at Bampton. 

The awful warning placed upon the lid of this 
box would effectually prevent its being opened, especi- 
ally at a time when so many things were shrouded in 
superstitious mystery, from which the veil has now 
been lifted. 

This relic, which can hardly be touched lest it fall 
to pieces, is now jealously guarded in the Ashmolean 
Museum at Oxford. It seems strange that a pincushion 
should have been chosen as a memorial to those brave 
men who died for Prince Charlie and for that ancient 


line of kings towards whom there is still a leaning in 
some parts of Scotland ; but that such names as 
Kilmarnock, Derwentwater, Balmerino, and Lovat 
should be inscribed upon one does the pincushion 
much honour, for these gentlemen gave up their lives 
with gallant courage, thus earning for themselves the 
right to be enrolled amongst the heroes of history. 

Plate XXXIV., Illustration i, shews the pincushion 
in rather a novel position between and below two 
pockets which hang from the waist on to the hooped 
petticoat of this lady's magnificent costume. The doll 
was given to Mariana Davis in Paris in 1747, when 
she was three years old and had just recovered from 
a dangerous illness. The costume no doubt gives a 
faithful representation of the Parisian fashions of that 
day, and we hope Mariana was able to appreciate her 
valuable possession. But, from the excellent preserva- 
tion of the dress and all its decorations, we think this 
doll must have been kept in the drawing-room, and 
can never have received the extravagant affection so 
often lavished upon those battered or legless heroines 
that sleep in the loving arms of many a little child. 
The doll is two feet high, and made of wood. The 
dress, which is lifted to shew the pincushion on the 
petticoat, is of red, white, and green striped silk, with 
a Watteau back. The petticoat is wide and hooped, 
and has two pockets suspended from the waist ; one 
has a monogram embroidered on it, and the other a 
coat of arms. The pincushion is also suspended 
from the waist by a ribbon strap, and hangs quite low 
down on the edge of the petticoat. It is covered 
with satin, of a salmon-pink shade, with a yellowish 
ground, but the satin is so faded it is impossible to 
say what the original colours were. 


I. Pincushion hanging from the Waist on to the Skirl 
(Size, 2 in. X i^ in. Doll, 2 ft. high.) 


2. Venetian Pincuiliinn. 

(Size, ili in.x 8J in.) 

18//1 centmy. 

3. P.irtliJay riiicu.-.liiun. 
(Size, 7i in. y 5 in.) 



Plate XXXIV, gives us in Illustration 2 a Venetian 
pincushion, which carries our thoughts right away to 
that enchanting city which rests like a dream upon 
the bosom of the Adriatic Sea, a vision of surpassing 
beauty, where all is fair and bright, except, perhaps, 
the smells and the steamers, which are horrid ! But 
the pins — how glorious they are, their glass heads 
all glistening with prismatic colours ! and how hard 
it is to pass and repass those gaily decorated shops 
without running in to buy just one more pin or 
necklace for some one left behind under the cold 
grey skies of England. Many little gifts are bought 
for friends we do not often remember, but think of 
now only as being old or sad, for the sunshine 
and the dazzling beauty of this entrancing spot soften 
our hearts to all the world, and the spell of Venice 
is upon us, a memory that can never fade. But to 
return to the pincushion, which is covered with blue- 
grey figured velvet on a yellow foundation, and has 
yellow and cream silk tassels, with a border of silver 
braid. From what piece of costly material can it have 
been cut ^ It may have had a glorious past, for we 
know that in those days, when the pride of Venice 
was its wealth, magnificent tapestries, carpets, and 
curtains of velvet, satin, and cloth of gold floated 
from the windows and balconies of palaces at all State 
functions or water fetes. This little piece that now 
covers the pincushion may have floated with these, 
or it may have had an even prouder position as part 
of the state- robes of some great Doge, who, with the 
vestments of his oflice, wore the ducal crown and its 
circlet of gold, the historical corno. 

The possibilities are great but most uncertain, and 
we know not what strange scenes of joy or sorrow 


this silent pincushion may have witnessed ; for the 
pins are gone, and no wonder — the pincushion is 
stuffed with straw ! What self-respecting pin could 
stand that ? 

Pincushions decorated entirely with pins seem to 
have been more or less the fashion for more than 
two hundred years. In England we find them in 1652 
(see Plate XXVIII., Illustration 2), and about a hundred 
years later, in 1751. The next are dated 1768 and 
1794, and the latest we have seen in this style 
were made in 1830 and 1844. No doubt, when 
pins became plentiful and more generally used, the 
idea of decorating pincushions with them instead of 
with needlework proved a novel and attractive idea, 
and must have been hailed with delight by many 
ladies whose fingers were not sufficiently dexterous 
to admit of their working elaborate designs with 
a needle, but who had, all the same, enough patience 
and accuracy of eye to stick pins into a drawing 
which was not necessarily of their own design. We 
have already remarked that these pincushions were 
made to commemorate important events in the lives 
of our forefathers, such as weddings, and birthdays (see 
Illustration 3, Plate XXXIV.), made of yellow damask, 
with gold tassels, round-headed pins forming the words 
and the dates. They were also a very usual present to 
a mother with a young baby, in the eighteenth and 
nineteenth centuries. 

Various designs, initials, dates, and appropriate 
verses were stuck in with pins. Plate XXXV., Illus- 
tration I, a painted cream satin pincushion, with date 
1768 and the words " Luck in a Lad " set out in pins, 
and knotted tassels at each corner, is of particular 
interest, as it has been used for several generations 


I. ^Maternity Pincushion. 
(Size, 6i in. x 5 in.) 


^laternity Pincushion. (Size, 6^ in. >; 4J- in.) 

2. Maleinily Pincushion from Camilla 
Lacey. (Size, yh in. x 65 in.) 


4. Wedding Pincushion. (Size, Jv in. x 6^ in.) 


with a table-cover to match, both of which were 
placed upon a table just before the birth of a child 
in the family of Mascie Taylor of Lymme Hall, 
Cheshire. The words " Luck in a Lad," formed 
with pins upon the cushion, express a hope that the 
expected child will be a boy. It is stuffed with flannel. 
Another very interesting pincushion of this kind 
(Plate XXXV., Illustration 2) is kept at Camilla Lacy, 
near Dorking, in the Burney parlour, and was used 
at the birth of a son to M. and Mme. d'Arblay {nee 
Fanny Burney) in 1794. It is in white silk, and has 
the words " Loncj live the dear child " and five hearts 
traced in pins on one side. On the other side (shewn in 
Illustration 2) the pins form the name " F. d'Arblay," 
surrounded with a decoration made also with pins. 
Illustration 3, Plate XXXV., is dated 1830, and is 
one of the gems of our collection. The decoration is 
the same, entirely in pins, the arrangement of which 
is a triumph of skill. A lily and a rose lie upon 
the cushion of cream-white silk, as though just plucked 
from the garden, whilst the little sprays on each side 
can only be forget-me-nots — we almost see their 
colour. A trimming of narrow silk braid goes all 
round the cushion, fastened on with round-headed 
pins. The tassels at each corner are silver. The 
words set out in pins are as clear as printing and 
most suitable to the occasion, more especially as 
they are from Byron's pen, which crowns the 
interest ; for the pincushion was presented to Mrs. 
White of The Forest, Notts, when her first child 
was born in 1830, by her friend and neighbour 
Mary Chaworth, Byron's " Mary," who, when Byron 
was but fifteen years old, charmed his heart away, 
and inspired his third great passion. The pincushion, 


though much faded, is in good preservation, and every 
pin in its place. 

America has also produced pincushions of this 
kind, and Mrs. Alice Morse Earle describes one in 
Child Life in Colonial Days which had a flowered 
vine stuck in with pins, and the words " John Winslow, 
March 1783. Welcome, little stranger." Another 
given to a Boston baby while his new home was in 
a state of siege bore the inscription : — 

" Welcome, little stranger. 
Though the port is closed." 

The words were formed by the heads of pins. One, 
of the early nineteenth century, had these words on it : — 

"Peace, prosperity, and joy 
Attend the little girl or boy." 

Another of perhaps a century ago is still decorated 
with the original pins in verses : — 

" God assist the mother through her danger, 
And protect the Httle stranger." 

Yet another reads : — 

" May the dew of heaven shine upon 
The appearing flower." 

Plate XXXV., Illustration 4, gives a very pretty 
example of a white satin pincushion designed for a 
wedding gift, in the same style as the maternity and 
birthday pincushions. The words, " May you be happy. 
Presented by E. Bristow, 1 844," are formed with pins 
on one side, and the initials of the bride and bridegroom 
appear on the other, with little wreaths of flowers in 
cross-stitch. The custom of presenting gifts on the 
occasion of a marriage is an old one, and when this 
pincushion was made about seventy years ago there was 
of course far less choice in the way of gifts ; the 


I. Wedding Souvenir. (Size, 2 in. x 2 in. 

\Veddinc[ Souvenir. 


tval ffi\pjnj-ss tlw* 

J»*;ns1 IP'C'. In his <^<-ialri[.,vi* . 
WuiiDaaiulrT-uit3mi'i£-^Krv;it lii;:;]in. ^ 
'tern sm tlt»- ;;T»-at JV/wt-vs V«'-t.-<l m 

datzqut a \)tsiDiiiYujHrr- njMwi Lit iitnn- A 

fifwarr-fl.aBld t!w» *>*w.ifrs i»f Itriiain act- 
tirf> drrati and artaTtrattna nf tlir^vrnltl: 
am»r:in»i! in -AtirtinifiaTratf Itrw ] 
I*,- ntsm' a 5iU(iin-it trar ka.< |j»n-ii 

orpliaiix \iavr- h;id tbfh: .t'nTwvs aBr- j 1 
vint»-(^ Ijv rtii' fciniLcxrrcDtr of hiJi 
(, j»bilaiiturujn"Tn a w**rilh»* 


' m his fi-t?"Yi-ar. ' 

3. Memorial Pincushion to the Duke of 

York. (Size, 2 in. in diameter). 


4. Memorial Pincushion to the Duke 
of York. 


requirements of life were fewer, and pincushions being 
then less numerous, the present was one of greater 
value and importance than it is now. A pincushion 
is, however, still a very popular present, and no 
wedding outfit is thought complete unless it contains 
three or four. Pins having become indispensable to 
the comfort, happiness, and harmony of existence, 
it would surely be tempting Providence, if not indeed 
courting disaster, to start married life without several 
pincushions. The bride must have one in her suit- 
case, another in the small bag she carries on her arm, 
and two more at least packed away in her big trunks. 
They will all be well supplied with pins, and we should 
like by reviving a charming custom to feel that a 
lasting expression of the good wishes of her friends 
might be carried away by a young bride in such 
words as "May you be happy" upon her pincushion. 
A wedding " souvenir " of a little earlier date is found 
in Plate XXXVI., Illustrations i and 2. It was given 
to Miss Mary Mordaunt on her wedding-day, April 14, 
1 841, when she was married to Mr. (afterwards 
Sir) Thomas Dyke Acland. It is made with two 
pieces of round card covered with very pale blue 
watered silk and sewn together. On one side the 
word " souvenir " and the date and designs are 
formed with a silver cord, which is sewn on with 
very fine, almost invisible pale blue sewing silk. In the 
word " souvenir" one side of each letter has a double 
cord, which gives them a more solid appearance. 

The other side has a very curious design, which 
it is impossible to decipher, but may have been 
intended to represent the united initials of the bride 
and bridegroom. The work is exquisite, and this 
tiny pincushion must once have formed as dainty 



a gift as ever a young bride received. But, when 
our thoughts turn to the loving hands, long since 
at rest, that fashioned and made use of it, such 
memories fill us with " a gentle sense of gloom," 
and with a passing sigh we tenderly cover up and 
put away this little treasure. 

The Duke of York's memorial pincushion (Plate 
XXXVI., Illustrations 3 and 4) completes the series, 
and proves that the great events of life and death have 
all been commemorated on pincushions. It is, however, 
the only one of this particular kind we have found, ex- 
cepting, of course, the Jacobite pincushions in memory 
of the martyrs to that cause. The Duke of York's 
is a pocket pincushion, made of two rounds of card 
covered with white satin and sewn together at the 
edges. On one side is a nicely engraved portrait of 
the Duke of York within a wreath of bay and oak 
leaves. Underneath the portrait is the inscription : 
"Published by R. Millar, 14 Paternoster Row." On 
the other side is an obituary : " His Royal Highness 
the Duke of York was born i6th August 1763. In 
his official capacity as commander-in-chief his Royal 
Highness exercised the great powers vested in him 
with that wisdom and discretion which stamps a 
lasting lustre on his name : under his fostering care 
a race of heroes have appeared, and the soldiers of 
Britain are at once the dread and admiration of the 
world : he was unwearied in works of private bene- 
volence : many a soldier's tear has been wiped away, 
and many widows and orphans have had their sorrows 
alleviated by the kind exercise of his philanthropy. 
In a word, he was the Soldier's Friend. His Royal 
Highness, after great suffering, died the 5th January 
1827, in his 64th year." 




V'/'^ VV"J 

I. Group of Knitted Pincushions 
\%th and i()tk centuries. 

2. Knitted Pincushion. 
(55- in. in circumference.' 


3. Small Knitted Pincushion. 
(Diameter, 1^ in.) 

iSifli i-entiirv. 

4. Knitted Pincushion. 


The pincushion has a little tab of black ribbon, and 
is stuck round with old black pins. 

The group of knitted pincushions inPlateXXXVII., 
Illustration i, belong to Mrs. Head, and she says in an 
article which appeared with them in the Queen of 
7th March 1903, that ". . . they are remarkable as in- 
dicating the length of time a particular style of pattern 
remained in vogue. All five are made in exactly similar 
fashion, to wit, knitted in round sections, which are 
sewn together over a tightly stuffed ball-cushion. The 
join is hidden by a flat hand-plaited cord of silks 
similar to those used for the cushion cover, and a 
length of the same is attached to the top and finished 
off with a loop, by means of which it was suspended 
to the waist-belt. The cushion at the top of the 
plate is the oldest, bearing the date 1782, and the 
pattern is knitted in dull gold silk on a mulberry 
ground. The design on the reverse side is a quaint 
one of two conventional birds facing each other. 
Next in age to ' S. B.'s ' cushion comes ' S. F.'s,' on 
the left hand, dated 1798, and knitted in brownish 
purple on white. The reverse is adorned with the 
moral axiom, ' Let virtue be your guide.' The third 
cushion — lowest of all — is a bright and pretty tri- 
coloured affair, striped cream, chocolate, and sky-blue, 
the lettering and date, ' A present from Ramsgate, 
1802,' being in white on the blue, and chocolate on 
the white stripes. Of the two remaining cushions, 
the large centre one is the clumsiest of all, for it is 
knitted with harsh crewel-wool, red and white on a 
green-blue ground. It bears signs of having been 
roughly cut open, perhaps to ascertain whether a 
banknote or some similar treasure was concealed within, 
as I believe this idea was responsible for the destruc- 


tion of a good many of these funny old ball-cushions. 
This wool-cased example is initialled ' M. W.,' and 
dated 1817. The last of the five, on the right hand 
of ' M. W.'s ' cushion, is of much later date, yet were 
it not for the tell-tale '1840' it might be contem- 
poraneous with the first cushion described, so alike 
are they, especially as regards the patterns on the 

The possibility of exciting discoveries, such as 
those suggested by Mrs. Head, being connected with 
knitted pincushions adds greatly to their interest, 
though we trust the chance of finding hidden treasures 
will not lead to the ruin of them all. That would 
be sad indeed, for, alas, how many relics of the past 
are gradually disappearing. A terrible time called 
" spring-cleaning " is answerable for much ; as surely 
as each year that season returns, the spirit of destruc- 
tion invades the hearts of housekeepers, turning many 
a really charming woman into a destroying angel, as 
she sweeps away without remorse treasures touched by 
a thousand memories. 

If we now look at Illustration 2 on the same 
plate, with initials and date 1815, made by Elizabeth 
Orton, who lived all her life at Swaffham in Norfolk, 
we shall at once perceive that it is in much better 
preservation than the centre one of Mrs. Head's group, 
though made two years earlier. The reason of this 
may be that so far it has not been suspected of con- 
taining anything of value ; its form has therefore not 
been tampered with. Illustration 3 is a pretty example 
of very fine knitting in brown and white silks, with 
squared floral forms and the name " C. Osboldestone " 
set in octagonal spaces ; and Illustration 4 excites 
interest as having belonged to Isabel Strange, whose 


3 t^; 

^ r^ 



initials appear upon it, and who was the wife of Sir 
Robert Strange, the engraver. The pincushion is 
knitted in black and white silks, and the twisted cord 
from which the cushion is suspended is also a mixture 
of black and white. 

Mrs. Head's pocket pincushions (Plate XXXVIII., 
Illustration i), displayed in a group, are very dainty 
and pretty, and must have taken a long time to make. 
Such fine work could not have been done in a hurry, 
and would require young eyes and fingers, but the 
patience of more advanced years. Mrs. Head herself 
gives a delightful description of this group, which 
she has kindly allowed us to make use of. 

" The pocket pincushions date from rather further 
back in the nineteenth century than the reign of Queen 
Victoria. The centre one, at any rate, has a definite 
history which proves it to be at least eighty years old. 
Like the four surrounding it, it is made of two circles 
of card neatly covered and oversewn together, the 
covering of this particular cushion being deep purple 
satin, and its diameter just under two inches. Its 
decoration consists of a bunch of flowers executed in 
ribbon embroidery, a type of ornamental needlework 
which has been revived over and over again during 
the last 150 years. China ribbons — pink, crimson, 
green, and pale blue — are used, and each wee rose 
and bud is a mass of the most minute and fairylike 
quillings. The stems and veinings are put in with 
stitches of fine green silk. Another example of ribbon- 
work, in this case combined with beads, is to be seen 
in the cushion to the left of the centre one, than 
which it is probably rather older. The covering material 
is satin, once white, now much time-stained, and the 
three largest flowers in the gracefully drawn little 

M 2 


bouquet are worked in pale blue and amber ribbons, 
but the small forget-me-nots — if so they be — are 
formed of tiny beads, opaque pink and white and 
clear glass mixed, while the leaves and stems are done 
in floss silk of various shades of green. When the 
pincushion was new it must have been a very bright 
and delicate affair. At the top of the group is a 
pincushion covered with white silk, round the edge of 
which is a wreath of flowers worked in beads of many 
hues, sprouting at regular intervals from a stem of 
green silk, each flower consisting of a ring of six to 
eight threaded beads sewn round a centre one. In 
the middle of the cushion initials appear to have been 
worked, but these have been picked out — when, wh^ 
shall say .'' — and the ensuing marks concealed by the 
addition of a delightful old " watch-paper," such as 
was used between the double cases of ancient watches. 
This is a circlet of white satin, neatly scalloped and 
overcast round the edge, and embroidered in the centre 
with a little basket of flowers in pink and green 

" The lowest of the five cushions is larger than the 
rest, measuring nearly 3^ inches across. It is, more- 
over, a double one, with leaves of flannel for needles 
inserted between the two sections. The wreath that 
adorns its cream-silk covering is prettily worked in 
opaque blue and clear amber beads, except the con- 
necting leaves, which are lightly painted with water- 
colour. The reverse is decorated with a wreath of 
foliage entirely painted. Some of the old hand-made 
pins, with rolled wire heads, still remain in this cushion. 
The fifth and last specimen shewn is not embroidered, 
but covered with white satin, on which maps of 
Scotland and Ireland are printed and delicately hand- 


I. Heart-shaped Kitchen rincushion. 
(Size, 6 in. ■ 6 in. in broadest part.) 

Early igth century. 

Heart-shaped rincushion, decorated 
with Beads and Pins. (Size, 3 J in. x 
3 in. in broadest part.) 

3. Soldier's Pincushion, decorated with Beads and Pins. (Size, 8 in. from 
point to point.) 

xgth century. 


coloured. Similar maps are sometimes met with 
mounted on needlebooks and cases for court 

One word must be said about Illustration 2, Plate 
XXXVIII., a cornucopia pincushion which is a perfect 
little gem more than a hundred years old, and yet as 
fresh and pretty as ever. The details of flowers and 
fruit are most beautiful, and the whole glowing with 
colour. It is made of two pieces of cardboard, covered 
and sewn together. The horn is of cream silk, the 
shading painted in water-colours, and the back is of 
mauve silk, quite plain and undecorated. The top of 
the cornucopia is entirely covered with bead-work, re- 
presenting bunches of purple grapes, pink roses, and 
blue, yellow, and white flowers with leaves, the whole 
of which appear to grow out of the cornucopia. 
There is a little silk stitching in the gaps between the 
bead ornaments, which forms a groundwork to the 
whole, or is, perhaps, also meant to represent the 
smaller leaves of the flowers. The whole is quite 
flat, and the pins, some of which are missing, are 
mostly round-headed. 

In Plate XXXIX., Illustration i, we find the heart- 
shaped kitchen pincushion which Mrs. Head tells us 
was in vogue some hundred years ago. It is covered 
on one side with black velvet and on the other 
with red merino, the whole surrounded with a ruche 
of scarlet braid. It is by no means perfect in shape, 
and a rusty bit of tape remains at the top to hang 
it up by. It may be thought strange that so romantic 
a shape should have been chosen for the kitchen. 
But we all know that romance creeps in there, as 
into every other place — cooks have many lovers ! 
It may, perchance, be cupboard love sometimes, but 


not always, by any means. Who can forget the 
romance of Miss Matty's "capable kitchen," with 
" such good dark corners," where Martha was unable 
at first to receive her lover, Jim Hearn, on account 
of Miss Matty's horror of " followers," and because 
she had given her word, and would keep it. And 
when, at Mr. Holbrooke's death, the romance of Miss 
Matty's own youth, long past but not forgotten, was 
over, who can forget the touching words with which 
she gave Martha leave to entertain some " respectable 
young man " once a week in the kitchen, adding in a 
low voice, " God forbid that I should grieve any young 
hearts ! " No one who has loved Miss Matty and 
remembers this little scene can ever say a heart-shaped 
pincushion is out of place in the kitchen. We might 
tell other tales of kitchen lovers, not forgetting the 
proverbial policeman, but such vulgar material would 
desecrate the memory, all fragrant with lavender 
and rose leaves, of dear Miss Matty ; so we will 
pass on to Illustration 2, Plate XXXIX., which 
is not only heart-shaped, but the principal part of 
the decoration is also heart-shaped, a heart upon 
a heart. The smaller heart is formed upon the 
cushion itself with beads, each bead, and here and 
there a sequin, being held on by a pin. The loop 
at the top is of red worsted, and was fixed before the 
cushion was finally sewn up. This is in reality part 
of the paraphernalia of *' heart magic," to which we 
have already made reference in our second chapter. 
It still exists in many forms, and is a survival of the 
use of hearts as charms against those demons who 
were formerly believed to be the cause of storms and 
tempests. Sailors, when starting on a voyage, are still 
often given, for luck, heart-shaped pincushions stuck 


full of bead-headed pins in fancy designs, of which 
this illustration represents a specimen. 

The "Soldier's Pincushion," Illustration 3, Plate 
XXXIX., was made after the Crimean War in 1856. 
It was not for the use of soldiers, and can hardly 
have been used by any one as a pincushion, for the 
whole is decorated with beads, and each bead is held 
in its place with a pin (as in the heart-shaped pin- 
cushion. Illustration 2). It cannot have been made 
by an ordinary soldier, and is most likely the work of an 
army tailor, for it will be noticed that the diamond- 
shaped segments are equally cut and well fitted, 
and the material and colours are those used in the 
tailoring department of the service. The pincushion 
was bought from a soldier, and was probably made 
in the first place to kill time, and secondly to take 
home as a present to a friend. 

After the battle of Waterloo, when at length the 
echoes of war with France, which had naturally 
exercised a very depressing influence on the nation, 
died away, and things in general began to look 
brighter, there was a great improvement in many 
kinds of workmanship. It is thought probable that 
this improvement was partly due to the influence of 
those French prisoners who remained in England and 
taught the English to make many dainty and pretty 
little articles. This is not unlikely, for there never 
have been people to equal the French in the manu- 
facture of what is new and dainty. Nations, like 
individuals, in their intercourse are great imitators ; 
and the English no doubt were also taught by this 
French influence to recognise the advantage of turning 
their own talents to account. Improvements of this 
kind, though seemingly small, often assist in the general 


development of a country. That there was a change 
for the better when the war with France and its con- 
sequences had passed away seems to be the general 
opinion. This may help us to date the pincushions in 
Plates XL. and XLI. Though it is difficult to speak 
with any certainty, we must be guided by the work 
itself, bearing in mind that, as a rule, more refinement 
was shewn in the workmanship of articles made after 
1 8 15-16. Some of the pincushions already men- 
tioned belong to this period ; for instance, a few of 
the knitted ones and those commemorating births, 
weddings, and deaths ; but we have thought it better 
to place all pincushions of one kind together, irre- 
spective of dates, and these last remarks about the 
work done during the first half of the nineteenth 
century apply more particularly to the bone and ivory 
articles that were carved or turned, and it was in this 
kind of work that we think the French influence 
was mostly felt. 

In Plate XL., Illustration i, a square pincushion 
with velvet top, and yellow cord round it, decorated 
on each side in white and green silks, is dated 
about 1809-10. The pin-tray shewn in Illustra- 
tion 2, with silver wire twisted in and out of the 
pins which form a stand for the tray, is of the same 
date ; as well as Illustration 3, which can be fastened 
by a screw to the table, and was used for holding 
needlework whilst it was being done. The little bead 
pincushion. Illustration 4, is also dated 1809-10. 
Illustrations 1,2, 3, 4, and 5, Plate XLI., are carved 
and pierced bone-work, all about the same date, 1816 
to 1 81 8, and we consider them to be specially the 
work of the French prisoners or their pupils. 

The sign of the Pincushion Inn (Plate XLIL, 


I. Square rincushion with \'clvel Top. 
(Size, 4 J in. square at top, 2 J in. square at hase, 2'1 in. dee]).) 

2. A I 'in Tray. 
Size, 4:i-lin. X 3 in. x 2 in. deep.) 


3. J'incushion to be fastened 
to a Table witb a Screw. 
(Size of Pincushion, 
2 in. V I in.) 1S09 10. 

4. Small Squaic licad I'iiKnisbion. 


I. CaiVL'd and I'ierccd Hone-work l'incushi(]n. 

(Size, 2| in. x i ';' in.) 


2. Carved and Pierced ISone-work. Al 
llie top a cylinder vvilh a silk 
measure enclosed. (Size, 4^,' in. x 
2^ in.) 


4. Carved Bone-work. (Size, 
i| in. X ll in.) 


5. Carved and Pierced Bone- 
work. (Size, 2g in. x 1 1 in.) 


5. Ciuvcd Bone-work. (liin. 
in diameter.) 



I. Sign of the Pincushion Inn at Wyberton, near Boston, Lines. 

2. Tin-case of the Musquakie Indians of North America. (.Size, sf in. x 3J 


rincushion used by (jiieen Victoria in the Rolaing-room of Westminster 
Abbey at her Coronation, June 28, 1838. 

Presented to the Marchioness of Noniniiil'v, by her Majesty's desire, 
from the Duchess of Sutherland. 


Illustration i) is interesting as being the only one of 
that name, and though neither the present inn nor its 
sign are of any great age, there is every reason to 
-believe that there was an inn of the same name on 
the same spot two or three centuries ago. Reference 
is made to it in the old parish accounts, it is also 
mentioned in connection with the riots on the enclosure 
of Holland Fen, the most southern of the three 
divisions of the County of Lincoln, in 1768, and 
many old inhabitants speak of it as existing in their 
forefathers' time. The inn stands on the high road 
between Boston and London, just where the old 
Roman road from the sea-bank over the fens crosses 
the high road at right angles. The present building 
dates about sixty years back. The pincushion upon 
the inn-sign is painted red, and has a centre decoration 
and border of yellow. The pins are gold. 

The pin-case (Illustration 2, Plate XLII.) of the 
Musquakie Indians of North America shews that the 
thorn, which was the foundation and starting-point 
of all pins, in all ages, in all parts of the world, was 
in use ten years ago. The case is made of black 
cloth and the design composed of beads. It was 
made and used by the Musquakie Indians in North 
America, and given to the University Museum of 
Archasology and of Ethnology at Cambridge in 1901. 
The squaws, though as a rule more ready to adopt 
new fashions than the men, at that time still clung 
to the fashion of using the thorns of the honey-locust 
{Gleditschia triacanthos) instead of the modern pins of 

Last, but not least, we have the honour and 
pleasure of shewing (Plate XLIII.) an illustration of 
the pincushion used by Queen Victoria on the day of 


her coronation, June 28, 1838, in the robing-room at 
Westminster Abbey. The royal arms are worked in 
fine lace, with V.R. at the top. On that momentous 
day, in the midst of a scene of the greatest magnifi- 
cence, her youthful appearance yet dignified bearing 
were the admiration of all, and stirred in the hearts 
of her loyal subjects that loving reverence that never 
ceased to grow as the years rolled on. We are told 
that when the Queen arrived at the Abbey there was 
much to be done in the robing-room ; it was then the 
pincushion played its part, and without doubt some of 
the pins went with her Majesty into the Abbey, and 
could tell many tales of that thrilling moment when, 
as the crown touched her royal head, every one 
shouted for joy, and from the organ burst forth in 
swelling tones, " God Save the Queen." 



Printed by Bai.laktyne, Hanson & Co. 
Edinburgh df London 




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